Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Saurabh Sethi, MD, MPH
One of the many reasons we post others’ stories is to help erode the idea that an STI (whether temporary or long-term, and in this case, HSV1) should be looked at as something a new partner needs to get over or accept – a flaw, if you will.
Sure, no one wants a cold, the flu, measles, or Ebola, for that matter, but despite our resilience, our bodies are not infallible, and maladies are part of the human experience. We don’t shame someone for contracting other types of infections, yet, it’s still consider acceptable to demean someone who’s contracted an STI. Once others are aware of how prevalent STIs are (80% of all people have or have had HPV, for example), that norm will begin to change.
As this interviewee states, I also wish we talked about STIs more openly and they weren’t considered appropriate folly for jokes and late night banter, so that’s why we’re doing something about it, and these interviews are the first step!
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
Freelance PR and social media
3. What STI/STD do you have/have you had?
4. How long have you had or known you have an STI/STD?
A little over two years
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
Yes, I was dating a guy that told me he had been tested, and we decided not to use condoms. He had an outbreak, and we had sex without realizing it. I had an outbreak the day after he noticed his.
He blamed me for giving it to him, but because my reaction was so much worse, the doctor said I probably contracted the virus within the previous two weeks. The results of my blood test also confirmed the infection.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
I became A LOT more selective with who I date and sleep with. It made me more responsible, and I started looking for guys I thought would be kind when they heard the news. Not that the guys I previously dated were that bad…
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
My friends were completely okay with me telling them and were super supportive when I was trying to decide how to tell the guy I was dating.
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.
I have the generic form of Valtrex for when I have outbreaks, but they don’t happen often enough to need to take it daily.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
It caused tension in the relationship when I contracted the virus and made my next serious relationship progress a lot slower than I would have liked, since I wanted to wait until I was comfortable enough to tell him. It took eight months but, actually, went really well, once I finally got the courage.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
I’m not currently dating anyone.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STI/STD whom you did not tell you had an STI/STD?
Yes, two before I was comfortable talking about it. Twice with one guy and just once with the other. We used a condom, and I wasn’t having an outbreak.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
I lost interest in casual relationships and started looking for something more serious.
Honestly, it made me lose a little self-confidence as well. I used to feel like I was worthy of any guy, and now I feel like I have this flaw that they will have to learn to accept.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I wish it was something people talked about as normal and wasn’t the subject of jokes or considered dirty.
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!
I contributed my interview to this group the day I found out I was positive for HSV 1&2. I understand how you feel and I have certainly had my fair share of days where I feel flawed. Of all the people I’ve told in the last almost 18 months, I’ve only had one bad reaction and that one has definitely stuck with me.
I recently came to the decision that I too can’t do “casual” any more. I don’t want flings, I want a family. If that means giving up sex in order to find something of substance with someone then that’s fine. I have more productive task to fill that time.
Yes, we have a disease, but I tell people I basically have chicken pox for life. My disease has made me pursue a healthier, stress reduced lifestyle and I’m thankful for that. I can’t stand the fact that our kind of infection or disease is preceded by “sexually transmitted” and that it has a tendency to make the general populace lose their minds like we just told them we have Ebola. We get cold sores, uncomfortable blisters, fatigued, and several other highly manageable symptoms that are as much of a nuisance as a cold. We’re not the walking dead yet we get treated like we’re “the new lepers” when we disclose our very minor health issue.
In closing, our disease is not the problem, it is the close mindedness of a good many of our fellow humans. I read an essay written by a young woman who said that one of the things that her disease has shown her is who is and isn’t worth her time. Love the one’s that are and forget about the one’s that aren’t. Just because we hit a bump in the road trip of life doesn’t mean the whole car is going to fall apart. We should stay strong, stay positive, stay motivated, and continue to move forward with love in hearts.
Jenelle Marie Davis
I couldn’t agree with your sentiments more! Thank you, kindly, for such a thoughtful response to the interviewee. Cheers!