Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
A concise and poignant interview submitted anonymously via the contact form. This full-time student shares how her genital herpes diagnosis has impacted her emotionally and has affected her relationships with family, friends, and partners.
The process of simply writing about your feelings can be healing, but it’s always nice to know you’re not alone and that others have experienced similar emotions.
You’re definitely not alone, interiewee, and we’re thankful you were willing to share your story with us in hopes of helping others as well.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
3. What STI/STD do you have/have you had?
Genital Herpes (HSV2)
4. How long have you had or known you have an STI/STD?
About 5 months
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
I am not as happy as I once was.
Some days, it is hard to get out of bed when I awaken into reality. I am still learning to accept herpes.
I am often miserable due to side effects from medications.
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
My parents, unfortunately, do not respect me as much as they did before. However, my friends are always there for me.
8. Are you currently under treatment for your STI/STD? If so, please share whether you have explored prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or holistic and natural approaches.
I tried Valtrex – 1 gram 1x a day for my first outbreak. It cleared the outbreak up fast but came with bad side effects. I experienced migraines and constant fatigue.
I am now taking Zoirvax 400 MG 2x a day, but it does not seem to be working.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
Yes, the last person I was with wanted nothing to do with me when they found out I had herpes.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
I don’t have a significant other currently.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STI/STD whom you did not tell you had an STI/STD?
Not on purpose. We engaged in unprotected sex before I found that I had herpes. Thankfully, the guy did not end up contracting it.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
I feel depressed, ashamed, and guilty everyday. And very angry.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Reading other people’s interviews that are in similar situations as myself made me feel so much better. It gives me support to know that there are other people out there that are trying to live with herpes.
Can you relate to this interviewee? Did it help you to read someone else’s story? Have you experienced something similar or do you have some feedback to share with this individual? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
I don’t understand how people can let themselves down so much about having genital herpes. It has a HORRIBLE stigma and the people who won’t be with you for it are not knowledgable about it. When i first found out i had it i was really upset but after reading a few forum’s about people over coming the stigma i immediately thought ‘wow this is not THAT bad of a disease as i thought it was’.
Well, nbloc, I think that’s just the point: until one has had an opportunity to do additional digging, the little they know is often shrouded in stigma, and, thus, they feel horribly.
We agree, though, it’s not the end of the world, but until one is able to overcome the misconceptions that abound, it definitely feels that way. And, for some, the process is not as rapid.
I think it’s great, though, that you were able to overcome the stigma pretty quickly – that’s awesome!
Thanks so much for your comment.
I’m 18 and I just found out two days ago I have genital herpes. At a young ago I would brake out with cold sores, so Iv always had the herpes virus. Iv never had an outbreak anywhere else till now. Iv always been ashamed of the outbreaks on my mouth then to be told I’m positive for genital herpes shattered me to pieces. I have a daughter that just turned one the days ago and I have no idea how to even be strong for her. I’m so disgusted with myself I can’t even face anyone at this point. I’m a recovering dug addict and staying clean threw this pain is killing me slowly. Knowing I’m not the only one struggling to cope with it helps.
Hi andee –
Thanks so much for your message. I know what you mean; I spent quite a few years struggling with addiction as well, and my diagnosis gave me a reason to self-medicate. It’s ok to feel ashamed; that’s actually a very typical response – although, I know reading that won’t make you feel any better.
Please know, you’re always welcome here, you can reach out to me directly whenever you need to, and, of course, there are some other great resources out there as well.
You should know that your daughter is quite blessed to have a mother who is concerned about her in the way that you are – it indicates how you want to be a role-model for her while also providing the support that she will need. You’re definitely capable of it; you just have to first believe in your worth, and then when that doesn’t work, there will be folks like us to tell you otherwise.
Please reach out whenever you need, and know, you are not at all alone. Your daughter is blessed to have a mother like you.
Living In OK
I was in my very early 20’s when I found out I had Herpes. I was absolutely devastated!! I cried, I was upset and very angry at the person I thought gave it to me. Years later I realized that the person probably didn’t know himself that he had it. As I dated I told them I had herpes and to my surprise, they didn’t care!! When I met my fiance (then boyfriend), I told him before we had sex and he didn’t care b/c he “had already fallen in love with me”. We have a son and I was delighted to have been able to have my son naturally (vaginally) bc I thought I’d have to have a C Section. We have medicine to allow that! Isn’t that great?? Now I’m I divorced (recently) and I’m not in my secure spot anymore, meaning that my insecurity in having herpes is on the surface again. To have another relationship, I need to tell ANOTHER person that I have it. Well, after many weeks of dating this man I am seeing, I finally told him. To my surprise AGAIN, he didn’t care. He is 50 and I’m 39 so I’m sure he’s more educated than the young men out there. That is why Herpes needs to be exposed to be a manageable disease and many many MANY people have it. Even many many MANY that don’t even know! Ladies are living with what we contracted having babies, working hard, enduring stress (outbreak trigger) and LIVING a life. It’s inconvenient but it is what it is. I still have my moments of sadness for having contracting Herpes but then again, it is what it is and I have a wonderful 4 year old, and great man I’m dating, my mom is there for me….all that I have for being a perfectly IMPERFECT person. I hope and pray that everyone that learns that they have this can overcome it quickly by understanding that there are people like me, Jenelle Marie and many others young and old, celebrities, singers, professors, POLITICIANS (HAHA) and even possibly your letter carrier have it but guess what?? You are ALIVE and still doing better and even still ahead the other person you think has a perfect life.
It gets better I promise. It’s just a bump in the road but those wear down. I know. ; )
Hi Living in OK –
Thanks so much for sharing such a thoughtful comment!
It is devastating. trying to figure out how to live with this disease. I have just been diagnosed with HSV1. And I have no Idea how I contracted it. My partner and I contracted it at the exact same time. We showed symptoms within hours of each other. It is so painful. He contracted it on his mouth and is very very sick, and I got it on my genetals and it is the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. worse than child birth. I am polyamorous and I recently started playing with a new couple but they don’t have it. Of course at first I blamed them but after talking and studying this disease… I am at a loss for how we got it. The hard part is now of course, the couple who I have come to love, truly love,,, no longer wants me as a partner. They say to just be friends,,, but I am afraid that even that cannot happen. Guilt would stop me from being a good friend to them…..All I want to do is cry… I feel so angry, depressed, and hurt. I keep asking.. “WHY?”… Yes, I still have my original partner, whom I love with all my heart and as far as I know he still wants me, but it doesn’t make it any easier because when you have intimate love for another, it still is a broken heart…. So living with that, and trying to figure out how to continue to have a love life is such a struggle. I am afraid to be intimate with my partner for fear of giving it to him on his genitals, or me getting it on my mouth… I fear loosing him too over this whole thing. People tell me it will get easier in time and that I am not alone in this.. I believe them, but right now I am having a hard time.
Hi Devistated –
You’re right, it does get a bit easier in time, but I know that knowledge doesn’t do much to help you in the present. The good news is, it’s actually fairly unlikely that you’ll transmit the same strain of the infection to a new location – it’s certainly possible, but the risk is low, and there are steps you can take to greatly reduce that risk (taking anti-virals, avoiding sexual activity when having an outbreak, using barriers, etc.).
So, even though things feel a bit hopeless right now and with the couple who no longer wants to be sexually intimate with you, there’s certainly hope, and you can definitely still have an active, sexually healthy, and responsible sex life – it’s just that you’ll now be taking HSV1 into consideration going forward. You might like what Ashley Manta has to say about this on her website – she’s in an open poly relationship, and she’s also living with genital herpes.
Thanks so much for your comments!