Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
On day one of his STD diagnosis, this interviewee set out to do research and found The STI Project. Armed with an incredibly positive outlook and loads of resources at his fingertips, this 26-year-old is likely to work through the typical challenges one faces when being diagnosed with a highly stigmatized infection with ease – at least, we certainly hope for that outcome for him!
Delighted he found our website so quickly, we think his perspective is uplifting, yet, pragmatic, and we are inspired he wanted to reach out, share his story and help others so soon in his process. Thank you, interviewee, for your authenticity and your willingness to participate – reading about the first days of a new diagnosis will help others who’ve recently found out they have an STD as well.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
I work in security.
3. What STD do you have/have you had?
I recently found out I tested positive for HSV – herpes simplex virus – 1 & 2. This is the first time I got tested.
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD?
Today is day one.
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD?
After talking to partners in an established time frame, it’s been narrowed down to my most recent ex. Whether or not she’s had it the whole time or got it from someone else while we were together is still unknown. She did see someone sexually outside of our relationship, and now this is something we’re all going to have to deal with.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD?
I was making changes after this past relationship, and now I will definitely be implementing them. I’m a pretty positive person, in general, and that hasn’t been effected. I did freak out, though, when I got the news.
‘Oh no!’ I thought, ‘This can’t be right. This can’t be happening to me. Stuff like this happens to other people – way more promiscuous people – not nice guys like me.’
Before finding out, I’d decided to wait longer before having sex so that the relationship had a solid foundation before moving on. Now, though, it’s going to be have to be that way. I want a wife and kids, and whoever gets to fill that role is going to have to be open-minded and willing to take the risk.
I did think,’No one’s going to want me now. I’m screwed. I’m not going to be able to have a family. I’m going to be alone, because it’s a risk someone’s not going to want to take,’ but my friends have assured me otherwise – that my STD won’t matter to the right woman. She won’t see someone with an STD when she looks at me. She’ll just see me.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
Thus far, I’ve told some close friends, men and women, and they’ve been supportive. They were all shocked, but there hasn’t been any negative reactions so far. They all could pretty much guess who I got it from and were angry, to various degrees, with her.
8. Are you currently under treatment for your STD? If so, please share whether you have explored prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or holistic and natural approaches.
No, nothing yet. Given the way medicine is, though, I’m more inclined to take a holistic or natural approach. I don’t want to see an ad on TV in the next couple months and find out the meds I’m on are being recalled and there’s a class-action lawsuit.
9. Has having an STD hindered past relationships?
No, all of my partners were got tested at least once a year. I figured, as long as they were getting tested, I had no worries.
Since finding out, I haven’t been sexual active. I plan on it, but it’s going to take a little time.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD affected your partner?
I don’t have a significant other. I have a potential partner and she was the one who wanted me to get tested. I told her the results, and she still wants to stick around and understands the risks involved. We’re not planning on having kids or anything like that. It’s purely for fun.
I was surprised that she took it as well as she did, and we’ve talked about using condoms when we feel like we’re ready to be intimate.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD whom you did not tell you had an STD?
Oh, no. After I found out, I decided any and all future partners WILL be told. That’s just wrong to not tell them. They’re trusting me with their bodies, and I don’t want to violate that trust by not telling them I have an STD.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD?
It’s a little too soon to say. I’m still feeling positive about everything, but it’s still on my mind. I’m checking to see how this will effect my career path and I’ll make adjustments as necessary.
I think for my first day I did pretty good.
I’ve joked with my friends about it, and I still feel like myself. I feel like my STD shouldn’t change who I am. I’m not my STD. I’m still me, and I have a bright future ahead of me.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with The STI Project?
The STI Project is a wonderful idea.
Society and the media tend to perpetuate the stigma. I think a lot of people who haven’t had much contact with people who have STDs or haven’t contracted one themselves have this image that we’re all dirty people – that we don’t care who we have sex with or that we’re drug users and stuff like that.
We come from all walks of life, from the down-trodden to the uber-successful and in between.
People need to be educated, and the best people to do that are the people who are living/have lived it. They’ll cut through all the myth and b.s. and get right to the heart of it. They’ll be able to better convey what needs to be conveyed, and they’ll be better at building the bridges and filling in the gaps.
I’ve perused what’s available, and I haven’t come across someone as ‘fresh’ as me. I’m a Katrina survivor, I’ve policed the streets of New Orleans assisting NOPD, and I’m an Iraqi War Veteran, and today has been up there with those moments as being the toughest I’ve faced.
My STD isn’t going to kill me; so, I’m pretty thankful for that. If anything, it’ll show me who’s worth my time and who isn’t, when it comes to my personal life.
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!
Reading stories like this give me so much hope and help me to remember that I’m still me. Herpes or not. I am very lucky to still be in a relationship with someone who is willing to take those risks to start a family. I was never able to trace back who i might have contracted the disease from, but I as well have been avoiding medication. Trying to reduce my stress naturally and eating healthy. I’m proud to be me, and when I was diagnosed I at first lost it, but I am now confident in myself. I’m a happy woman who just graduated trade school and mended my 5 year relationship with the first man I fell in love with in highschool. I’m happy. I have herpes. Carry on and take care!
Hi Miranda L –
What a delight to hear you’re doing well and that his perspective helped you. You are right; your infection certainly does not have to define you or limit your potential whatsoever!
Thanks so much for your response.
Dear Jenelle Marie,
I contracted genital herpes 31 years ago. My partner (and ultimately husband) was extremely ashamed of our “condition”. On the other hand, I did not feel that having herpes made me a bad person and would have loved to have been able to express myself freely. Out of respect for my husband, I suffered in silence.
Now that I am divorced, I no longer have to consider my ex’s feelings. I have to admit though, I’m still not ready to shout it at the roof tops.
I guess my point is, I appreciate that you are paving the way for unashamed expression and discussion. Living with genital herpes has been mostly just a nuisance, but lately I have had several back to back very painful outbreaks. I am feeling a bit discouraged and sorry for myself. Sometimes it’s hard to fathom dealing with this for the rest of my life. Just knowing that there are people out there that are willing to talk about it and be supportive gives me encouragement.
I appreciate your bravery and look forward to being able to be supported….. and be supportive !!
Hi Tammy –
Thanks so much for your comment!
It’s ok if you’re not ready to ‘shout it from the rooftops’, per se – it’s certainly not for everyone, that’s for sure. What’s more important is that you continue to be unashamed of yourself – whether that involves telling people or not – and that you feel you can express yourself freely, should you like to, without unnecessary judgement or stigma. The last part is highly subjective, of course, but that you know you’re not defined by your infection is fabulous, absolutely fabulous.
Don’t beat yourself up for feeling a bit low either. It’s perfectly natural and part of the psychology of dealing with trauma – we have ups and downs, and every day, despite you having an overall positive view of yourself and your infection, can’t be all sunshine and herpes rainbows. I think, quite honestly, we put too much pressure on ourselves to be ‘over’ everything and to not have days where things, past experiences, and the like upset us more than others. Just recently, there was this BEAUTIFUL article that articulated the point I’m trying to make. It gave us, people, some concessions for still being affected by past experiences – in a nutshell, it said, it’s ok to not entirely be over anything, really, as all of our experiences – both good and bad – shape us, influence us, and, ultimately, change us – and to ignore that and to pretend everything is always peachy is a bit silly, when thought of that way.
It might sound like I’m contradicting myself here, and, in a way, I am, I suppose. The point is, it’s important we’re able to see the forest through the trees – to know that we are far more than our infection(s), of course, but it’s simultaneously ok for that infection, that diagnosis, and subsequent reactions and relationships to still affect us and, occasionally, to bring us down. It’s all a part of the experience of being human.
Anyhow, you’re very welcome – I’m honored to be doing this, actually, and even though I’m quite optimistic most days, there are still those in which I’m uncertain, burdened by feeling ‘tainted’ and just a bit depressed by it all. And, that’s ok too.
We’re in this together. 🙂