Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Saurabh Sethi, MD, MPH
A lot of folks tend to focus on the who, what, and why when diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection or disease. They want to know who they got it from, what they did (or didn’t do) to put them at risk, and why them. While it’s understandable to want answers, often, the details are not black and white – leaving people frustrated.
Rather than focusing on who, what, and why, part of being able to heal from a shocking and traumatic diagnosis is letting go and accepting that there are not always concrete answers. Instead, things like researching specific infections and focusing on education around comprehensive safer sex will empower you and help you move forward confidently.
They say, it’s not what happens to you but it’s how you handle what happens to you that ultimately builds character and determines your life’s path.
This interview is a lovely example of that approach.
1. How old are you?
I am 20 years old.
2. What do you do for a living?
I am a Fraud Analyst for a national bank.
3. What STI/STD do you have/have you had?
I have genital herpes.
In the past, I’ve also had vaginitis.
4. How long have you had or known you have an STI/STD?
I found out about a week ago.
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
I haven’t found out how I contracted the virus. Before finding out, I had just broken up with my long-term boyfriend due to him cheating.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
At first, I was in denial about the STD, and then I panicked and freaked out.
I felt like I wanted to die. I felt disgusted with myself (even though I haven’t had many sexual partners). I thought that I would be alone for the rest of my life and that the guy I’m currently with would leave me. I thought that my life was over and at such a young age.
The thing that bothered me the most was having children. The first thing I thought of was passing it on to my children, so I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to have any kids. After doing some research, I found that many people with the virus are able to have kids without passing it to them.
I was comforted by reading people’s stories and how they were able to manage with herpes and how some people rarely have an outbreak.
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
I have yet to tell anyone other than my partner about my STD. He also contracted herpes. We have been dealing with it together.
I am a little nervous to tell others about having genital herpes, because I feel like they will treat me differently.
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.
Currently, I have a prescription that is being filled; they mentioned that it would be for any time that I have an outbreak.
I’ve also heard that there are some over-the-counter medications that you can take to help reduce outbreaks as well as changing some of your eating habits.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
I haven’t told any of my past partners about the virus since I’ve been told that I have it.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
I have a significant other who has the virus as well. He has been there for me every step of the way, and I am grateful for him.
We are unsure if he contracted the virus from me or if I contracted the virus from him. However, we are not focusing on that aspect anymore.
We are looking towards the future and are making plans on how we are going to deal with it together. We are working on building our future together. We’ve even talked about having a child in the near future.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STI/STD whom you did not tell you had an STI/STD?
My significant other is the only person that I’ve been with since contracting the virus.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
Since learning that I have the herpes virus, I have felt more empowered.
After doing research and reading about people’s stories, my whole perspective about genital herpes has changed. I am not going to let this virus overcome me and take over my life. Instead, I am going to take control of it and continue to enjoy my life while I am still young.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I am choosing to participate in this interview because I would want someone who also found out they have the virus to know that they are not alone. I, too, once shared the same exact feelings as them, and I would want them to read this and feel different about having genital herpes just as I did.
Having an STD doesn’t mean that you are nasty; it just means that you were unlucky. God has a plan for you, so don’t ever think that your life is over. You can be great and still continue to move on with HSV.
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!