Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
Of all the negative things that often accompany an STD diagnosis, there’s one positive gain that seems to hold true for nearly all of those affected: empathy. While I can think of a number of more desirable ways to attain empathy or the ability to understand how someone else might be feeling, it’s an inevitable consequence of being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, and a rather wonderful one, I might add.
This interviewee is not alone in both her fear of telling others about her infection as well as her new-found open-mindedness. Interestingly, it’s that dislodging of unwarranted judgments that eventually helps us to share our very personal information of having an STD with potential partners. In time, the talk gets easier, and we can better understand where those individuals are coming from when they react, no matter the context: angry, shocked, worried, sympathetic, thoughtful, etc..
The new skill we gain in not prematurely judging others is precisely what helps us approach ‘the talk’ mindfully.
You’ll get there, interviewee, and, in the meantime, you’re always welcome here. The STI Project is definitely a safe space where you can get those things off of your chest. Thanks so much for your authenticity!
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
3. What STI/STD do you have/have you had?
4. How long have you had or known you have an STI/STD?
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
I was dealing with some troubling times (my father was battling and losing to cancer), and I was seeking the wrong kind of attention. I was out drinking one night with a good friend, and she brought her boyfriend who brought his good friend along trying to hook us up…
Well, we definitely ended up hooking up that night and, actually, ended up dating for 4 years. That night, he had an outbreak and didn’t tell me. I had no idea; I had no idea what it even looked like. So, a couple of days later, I had noticed something wasn’t right down there, and that’s when he decided to tell me.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
I have definitely stopped thinking negatively about the people who have to deal with this.
I’m also very scared of not being able to be honest with the people I love (like my family).
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
When my ex and I broke up, I had to move somewhere and that somewhere was with my Grandma’s. She knows now and doesn’t treat me differently in the slightest bit… I’m afraid to tell my mother, so I won’t!
I told my current boyfriend early-on, and he doesn’t treat me any differently compared to when he didn’t know.
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.
When my symptoms first started, my ex gave me what he was taking (Acyclovir). Now that I’m without him, I go to my OB/GYN, and she prescribes me Valacyclovir – pill form – and I take it every day.
I get outbreaks, maybe once every two months, and, when I do, I double my dosage to help them clear.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
Since my ex and I broke up, I’ve only been with one other person, and, regrettably, I didn’t tell him; I was way too scared. (Now I know how my ex felt.)
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
My new man has fully accepted me and my past. Even though it kills the both of us that we can’t be fully intimate at some times, he still accepts me.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STI/STD whom you did not tell you had an STI/STD?
Like I said, I was with a guy before I met my current man, and I didn’t say a word about it… I wish it wasn’t so, but I couldn’t tell him. I was extremely embarrassed.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
I have come to realize that people make this out to be a terrible thing, that you are a terrible person, and, because of that, I DON’T JUDGE ANYMORE!
I’ve become more aware of myself and my personal upkeep (keeping myself healthy and always taking my meds).
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I really don’t have that many people to talk to. I’m not completely comfortable with the people that do know and going into detail about it.
Most of the time (%99.9), I keep it all to myself. It feels good to get some of this off of my chest!
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!