Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Shuvani Sanyal, MD
This guest post was written by P. Nickle who loves someone who has an STD – The STI Project’s admin, Jenelle Marie.
I would say, yes, my views have definitely changed about STDs and the people who have them.
For the last 2 years, I have been in a relationship with a woman who has an STD, genital herpes, to be exact. While initially it can be a mild bummer to find out your significant other has an STD, over time, your negative views about STDs will change for the better.
As a pre-teenager, my negative views, as well as most others’, were initially conceived in Middle School around the age of 11 or 12.
We have all seen the slide-shows of worst-case ever seen scenarios – photos of herpes circa 1970 – and we have all been told the horror stories about gonorrhea or syphilis. Basically, our teachers, at the time, told us never to get an STD, they were bad, and that the long-term effects of some of them could be life-threatening.
Nothing more was mentioned about how to cure them – if there is a cure – or that you can have a perfectly normal life even if you end up contracting one.
You can see, right from the beginning, our views about STDs were molded into a negative perspective.
From Bad to Worse
From there the negative stigma about STDs only festered and got worse.
Throughout our High School years, STDs were the constant punch-line of jokes as well as the name tag we placed upon girls who were thought to be sleeping around. We can all remember the High School rumor-mill, some of the names given to people, and the way the negativity followed, only furthering the harmful stigma associated with STDs and contracting one.
I certainly can.
Most people start to feel the urges and temptations of attraction during adolescence. Why should we chastise each other for acting on them and then experiencing some of the things that come with having sex?
But, then, I grew up…
The years following were loaded with growing experiences, physically as well as mentally.
I grew up, as did most of my peers. Saying most, because there are some who will never grow up.
I’ve had my wild times doing the bar scene, dabbling in all that goes with it. I think a lot of people can relate, and if not, you or your children will be there one day… Where I’m going with this is we’ve seen and experienced attraction to other people. We know what it’s like to spontaneously act on those desires; let’s be real, it feels great.
Sex is a natural part of our normal human interaction, and it’s okay, however, we need to be responsible about it. That responsibility includes taking a stand for your sexual health – safer-sex and loads of communication – being sexually healthy.
STDs are a ‘part and parcel’ risk to sex, whether you’re being sexually healthy or not. We’ve seen that anyone can contract one. Therefore, they don’t make someone a bad person.
When My Views Really Changed
My views about STDs really changed, for the better, when I met the woman of my dreams who happened to have genital herpes. That, I could say, was my biggest turning point; STDs were standing right in front of me, and any stigma I had maintained would be brought to the forefront of my thought process as I was forced to take a look at all of the negative things I had thought throughout the years about STDs.
When it boils down to it, I either had to walk away from love, or realize that because someone has as STD, it doesn’t make them less of a person than any of the rest of us. Nor does it mean having an STD has to be a relationship deal-breaker.
You could say, all of the negativity I had previously thought about people who contract STDs flew right out of the window.
Furthermore, I did a little research of my own and began to learn just how prevalent STDs are in today’s culture. I also learned we can have a perfectly healthy sexual relationship despite her having herpes, so long as we take precautions.
The icing on the cake has come from the knowledge I’ve gained from her running The STI Project. Things like learning how many STDs are actually out there, and that there are some you can’t even test for, because there is no test. All of this combined knowledge and soul-searching has led me to understand and believe, just because someone has an STD, it does not make them a slut, dirty, or any of the multitude of shameful names out there.
Statistically, each one of us will either have a friend, family member, or someone they care very deeply for contract an STD. While we can make sure to be as safe as possible by being aware of our sexual health, some risks come with the territory.
The people who contract STDs are our family members, our friends, and sometimes, our lovers.
I have realized that the stigma placed on STDs was completely wrong. I can see how STDs have had an inaccurate and negative stigma placed on them from an early age – in our educators hopes that we didn’t have sex until way later in life.
If you contract an STD, it’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t mean you’re a slut. It happens to all kinds of people. You deal with it, and you move on.
And I, for one, won’t be stigmatizing you.
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This guest post was written by P. Nickle who loves someone who has an STD – The STI Project’s admin, Jenelle Marie. P. Nickle has a BA in Business and is currently working on his Masters in Criminal Justice and Psychology. He served in the United States Air Force and is a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. He believes he has always had an open mind, an open heart, and he welcomes all walks of life regardless of sexuality, creed, or race. He is looking forward to sharing his views, knowledge, and experiences with STDs with you guys, our audience. He encourages all comments and questions.
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Are you also in a relationship with someone with an STD? What did you think about the author’s perspective? Did this help you work through your feelings? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!