Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
Some interviews are long-winded, others are short and sweet. It’s one of the things I treasure most about the STI Interviews: their variety. We’re all so very different in our style of writing and what kind of information we share, and something about a simple interview, like this one, resonates with me. I think, maybe it’s because I’m typically anything but simple, and I tend to be an over-sharer, so I appreciate those who are more reserved just as much as those who write like I do – ad nauseum.
Anyway, no matter the tone behind the message or the length of the interview itself, there seems to remain an unmistakable similarity across all of the interviews. We all struggle with the shame that accompanies a herpes diagnosis, or any STD diagnosis, for that matter.
As a result, I think it helps to learn that others are also uncertain how to reconcile their self-worth with the negative messages accompanying sexually transmitted infections and diseases, if nothing more than it reminds us that we’re not alone.
That knowledge is the very first step in being able to move forward confidently in the direction of our dreams, despite being temporarily thwarted by an STD diagnosis.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
3. What STI/STD do you have/have you had?
Herpes: I don’t know if it’s 1 or 2.
4. How long have you had or known you have an STI/STD?
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
Yes. My boyfriend, at the time, ostensibly, didn’t know he was infected.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
Not a whole lot, except for the issues I struggle with below.
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
My friends, no, other than possibly limiting/eradicating offensive jokes.
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.
Yes. I take valcyclovir and make sure to watch my diet, rest, and exercise to keep my immune system at its best.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
I did. I don’t think the person who gave it to me truly believed that he had it.
My most recent SO left me because he wasn’t comfortable with the idea of constant risk. It has been a struggle for me to not connect this event negatively with my self-worth. I want him to be comfortable, but I also want to feel worth a little bit of complication.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STI/STD whom you did not tell you had an STI/STD?
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
I still struggle with shame and a negative self-image as a result of having herpes.
On the other had, I know that my disease does not define me, and I have no reason to feel the shame that I sometimes still do.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I want to take steps to eradicate the stigma surrounding STDs.
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!