Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Saurabh Sethi, MD, MPH
First off, I just want to thank you. It’s such an amazing and uplifting experience to read about someone who is doing so much to break the stigma of STDs. [you’re so very welcome!]
The Crazy Party Stage
I’m a 22-year-old college athlete, who you could say went through that “crazy party stage” in the early part of my college experience. During that time, I was being extremely carefree with the people I slept with. Several months later, I found out I had contracted HPV and, at the time, I was completely shattered.
When I was in high school, I was the good girl that was on the homecoming court, so I was devastated.
I kept it in, not telling anyone, not even my own mother who is my best friend. Over the course of the next few months, I saved money to pay for doctor visits, and six months later, I found out the HPV cured itself. Meanwhile, I had just transferred schools and started seeing a new guy. I was very adamant that we weren’t to be sexually active until I was positive I was no longer an HPV carrier… I hadn’t told him I had it.
A few weeks after I learned I was negative, I finally decided to be sexually active with the guy I was dating. It was great. I had been abstinent for almost a year, so I was looking forward to it. We also engaged in oral sex that evening. The next morning, he woke up with what was starting to look like a fever blister. I completely freaked. I guess he got them regularly, so it wasn’t a big deal to him, but after everything I had previously been through, I was just sick.
I knew there were chances that you could pass herpes to your partner from a fever blister (oral herpes).
Within the next week, I started having a spot show up, and I immediately went to the doctor. The doctor didn’t even think it was herpes, because it looked like nothing he had seen before. So, I was feeling pretty confident that it was me over-reacting. Well, a week later, I get a phone call telling me my test came back positive for herpes.
First HPV, then Herpes
I don’t think I can ever put in to words how I was feeling or the thoughts that went through my head.
I had just over-come HPV, and there I sat, the first time having sex again, and I get herpes. (You could say I’m a bit turned off by the thought of having sex again, lol.)
A week went by, and I eventually decided to tell my mom. And quite frankly, that was the best decision I’ve ever made. She has been the most supporting person through all of it. It’s been about 6 months since I first learned of my diagnosis, and every day gets better. It’s always hard at first to accept it and to learn how to deal, mostly because we are so scared of the unknown. What will our future be like? Who is going to want to be with me? What will people think of me?
But I can tell you right now the best thing anyone ever told me when I told them about my herpes was “If they truly love you, then they will love all of you.” The way I look at it, herpes is just another skin condition, like acne or eczema. Learn to love yourself, all of yourself, and then in turn, someone can’t help but do the same.
Our STD does not define us, but we do define our STD. If anything, this whole experience has made me a better version of myself.
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This essay was submitted anonymously after the author visited some of our STI Interviews. She chose to write a short story, as opposed to answering the more traditional STD interview questions. She believes that if her story can help anyone else living with this and help them be more comfortable with who they are, then it will have been worth it.
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How did this story affect you? What do think about the stigma surrounding STDs and those who have them? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!