Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Saurabh Sethi, MD, MPH
What better way to turn lemons into lemonade than to take a herpes diagnosis and use it to help your friends.
We hear this a lot, at The STI Project, that once someone shares their experience with their friends, they become the resident STD guru, and we think that’s awesome. Most people don’t know who they can ask for help or who they can trust with that kind of personal information, and having a friend who’s been open about their status can make all the difference. This wouldn’t be necessary, of course, if everyone had access to comprehensive sexual health education, but that’s just not the reality right now. In the meantime, our peers and family members come to us for help, and being able to provide a lighthearted and supportive resource for them is golden.
Thanks so much for sharing with us, interviewee, and thanks so much for being there for those near to you when they need an empathetic resource the most. You rock.
1. How old are you?
I am currently 26 years old and hopefully have many more years to enjoy.
2. What do you do for a living?
I am in customer service and sales, but passionately, I just love to create art and literature and video.
3. What STI/STD do you have/have you had?
I have herpes, but honestly, by this point, I have forgot if it is type 1 or 2.
4. How long have you had or known you have an STI/STD?
I was diagnosed on my 21st birthday; what a great birthday present to receive!
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
The most I can recall about contracting it is that it was from un-safe sex and fore-play with a young lady who believed I gave it to her… I [am pretty sure] this was not the case, because I was tested a month before knowing this girl, and I had done nothing with anyone in that time frame.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
At first, I was shaken and scared. I thought my life was over, and I spent a year and a half lost in my self and afraid to interact with anyone in any physical manner. I was reading a lot of very badly written “facts” that made it sound like a love-life death sentence.
Over time, that changed. I met a young woman who accepted it without really understanding it. There were times she would worry that I had spread it to her as well, but we lasted a few years together before going our separate ways. She has never shown symptoms of contracting it from me.
After time, you forget it is there, until it rears its ugly head. Other than that, now I am just a sounding board for my friends when they worry they may have contracted something.
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
At first, there was some pity and disgust from people, but over time, your close friends accept it, forget about it, and honestly will start making jokes about it with you.
I dated another young lady who ran screaming when she found out, but she has recently come back into my life and apologized for how she acted out of her fear.
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.
Early on, I asked my doctor for some form of medication, but he would not give me a daily viral treatment. The most he would give me was a pill that would help clear up outbreaks more quickly. Honestly, I filled the prescription once and never used it.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
Yes, but nothing in a horrible way that could not be worked on or fixed.
If people don’t understand, then they need to spend time being educated, and sadly, everyone has been scared into these ideas that were taught in high-school health classes focused on abstinence.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
As mentioned above, the two girls I spent any time with after being diagnosed both had their own reactions. One was uncertain how to deal with it, and the other accepted it.
I did try to date the girl that I contracted it from, thinking I had no other options, but that had no chance of working out.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STI/STD whom you did not tell you had an STI/STD?
No, everyone I have been with sexually has been informed and protection has been used.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
It allows you to open your eyes and start doing your own research. I began to read up on it a great deal while trying to educate people on how “severe” it really is.
It makes you accept people with similar diagnoses much easier too.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I believe this site is doing a great service to the world by sharing a view most don’t. It explains to us that your world is not over and you can still do anything you set your mind to.
Support stories can always help those who are uncertain, and this is just a small way I can contribute.
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!