Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Saurabh Sethi, MD, MPH
Quite frankly, interviewee, after 16 years of living with HSV (HSV2 for me, HSV1 for you), I think you’re right – the conversation sucks all day errrr day. I’ve had it so many times, I can’t even count without some effort, but I still feel the same dread, trepidation, and overwhelming fear I did when I was first diagnosed.
I think, sure, the actual words start to become more mechanical, practical, and rehearsed, but deep down, the fear that someone is going to react as poorly as you see them react on social media, for example, still resides.
Interestingly, I’m an ‘out’ person – someone who is known as the herpes chick, the STD lady, the vagina whisperer, you name it – and still, when I meet a brand new, doesn’t know me online or already know about me through friends kind of person, I still wonder how they’ll react.
That never goes away. We just get stronger. More resilient and more steadfast in our love for ourselves and what we expect of decent human beings who might one day interact with ourselves (STI status or no).
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
Active Duty Air Force
3. What STI/STD do you have/have you had?
HSV1 – genital
4. How long have you had or known you have an STI/STD?
About 2yrs now
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
I have no idea who I got it from or when and how I got it.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
Life has not changed drastically. I’ve only had two outbreaks, and both were very minor.
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
The only people who know are my mother who cried with/for me, one of my good friends who was very supportive, and the three people I have been sexually active with.
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.
The first year I was on Valtrex that I took daily, but since then, I’ve only taken medication one other time. That was the only other outbreak I’ve had thus far.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
My diagnosis has not hindered any past relationships, which I was very nervous about.
However, I don’t feel the conversation ever gets easier.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
I have, over the past couple of weeks, been hanging out/going on dates with someone. About a week ago, I finally told him. He seemed to take it ok, but I’ve noticed some differences in our interactions, so I knew something was up.
I actually confronted him today, and he said it kind of took him by surprise and that he wanted to take some time to process it. That is totally understandable, but I am scared, because rejection is never easy – especially over something you cannot help. We have not yet been sexually active. But I guess we’ll see where things go.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STI/STD whom you did not tell you had an STI/STD?
I have had one sexual encounter that I did not disclose my diagnosis.
I was halfway asleep and intoxicated when a guy took advantage of me. It may not have been fair, but when I was more aware, I still decided not to tell him.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
Before the doctor even said the words, I knew that I had contracted an STD. I cried and felt like my world was over.
Its been hard to deal with – especially having the conversation, I don’t ever think that gets easier.
With time, I’m learning to deal with it. I know that I’m not alone and that its not that uncommon, and that gives me some peace.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I decided to participate, because I’m not good at talking and/or expressing myself verbally, but writing has always been a way for me to let out my emotions and cope. I also think its good to share your story and for others to read it.
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!