Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Shuvani Sanyal, MD
Stop the presses, people; I have herpes – genital herpes – and more specifically, I have the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2)! Enthusiasm and exclamation marks intended.
No, but, really, I’ve actually known I’ve had herpes for years and years (14, as of the date of this post)…. So, why this post in the first place; I’ve already written my STD Interview, and why, of all things, am I excited about this?
For the first time since having been visually diagnosed with genital herpes, some 14 years ago by my family doctor, I know which strain of herpes I’m carrying.
So, I’m excited, because I know more, and knowledge is power.
Not to mention, anyone who was previously up in arms, because I didn’t know which strain I had, will have to find something or someone else to worry about! 😉
HSV Type-Specific Blood Test
A little while back, I got trolled by an anonymous commenter who was angry I hadn’t had a herpes type-specific blood test yet. The individual was concerned I was advocating for not finding out… Of course, most of you are aware that quite the opposite is true; let’s just say, I have always been a big fan of NBC’s ‘The More You Know’ campaign.
However, as I like to do with all opposition (I receive very little of it, but when I do, it often becomes blog content), I thought about why and where those comments generated from, and I wrote about it. The abridged version is that everyone’s situation is unique, as was my own, and rather than setting hard rules for people, I believe in thoroughly educating folks, so they are armed with information that will help them formulate conscientious decisions geared toward their specific sexual health needs.
The More I Know = The More You Know
At any rate, I recently tried our recommended STD testing provider’s services as a mystery shopper. That we even recommend one provider, in particular, and have chosen to send our readers their way took some careful consideration and a lot of research. Testing as a mystery shopper was part of that process. I went through the complete STD testing experience anonymously in order to determine if they were the best option out there. Stay tuned; next week, I’ll walk you through their system and what I thought about it – this post is about my awesome HSV2. Boom!
The testing experience itself aside, I opted to try a comprehensive 8-test panel, which, also included a herpes type-specific blood test. I’ve already tried a bunch of free STD clinics, and they don’t generally test for herpes; so, this time I’d get answers I hadn’t previously seen*. You can imagine my excitement!
*I’m in a mutually monogamous relationship, and we get tested together often as part of what I do for the website, so, I could anticipate what my results would be for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and hep B & C (even though free clinics don’t typically test for hepatitis, I’ve also recently been tested for both hep B & C, per my request, at my OB/GYN’s office, and my significant other was tested for hep B & C during his military tenure).
Turns out, I don’t have HSV type 1, and I am positive for HSV type 2! *does golf clap*
I’m probably the only person on the face of the earth who is happy about those results!
Truth be told, my results weren’t very surprising to me…. I’ve spent the last 14 years operating under the assumption that I had herpes simplex type 2. It’s just nice to know for sure.
Your Sexual Health Matters Too
It’s also nice to know, the rest of the 7 tests I took were negative.
When you’re living with an STD, it’s easy to discount your health in lieu of worrying about transmitting your infection to others. The stigma surrounding those with an STD can make it feel like we are the bad guys, we’re the ones people have to watch out for, and we’re the huge risk. It’s easy to get wrapped up in that mindset while our health takes a backseat to that of others – others who might not know their status at all.
We’re rarely told it’s also incredibly important we care about our sexual health, not just because we could transmit our infection to someone else, but, because having an STD puts us at a higher risk of contracting additional STDs.
Being mindful of your sexual health when you’re living with an STD is just as important as it is for those who don’t have an STD.
Don’t let stigma discourage you from advocating for yourself and your sexual health.
There’s something empowering about knowing your status – STD or no – you’re proactive, aware, and responsible, and that’s a huge step in the direction of sexually healthy!
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Have you recently found out what strain of a virus you have or are you still uncertain, because you were diagnosed visually? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!