Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Saurabh Sethi, MD, MPH
Both an HSV1 and an HSV2 diagnosis can spur a multitude of traumatic emotions when located genitally.
At The STI Project, we often hear from readers that HSV1 (traditionally thought to be only an oral infection) is the ‘good’ kind of herpes, and that HSV2 is the ‘bad’ kind.
But, as evidenced by this interview, countless others, and the stories of those left untold, herpes – both HSV1 and HSV2 located genitally, especially – produces such an intense amount of shame, embarrassment, fear, and overall emotional distress (because of its social ramifications) that, across both diagnosis, there is very little difference physically or psychologically.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
3. What STD/STI do you have/have you had?
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD/STI?
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD/STI?
Yes, oral sex with a boyfriend I never even saw had a cold sore.
We went to get tested when we first started dating, and the clinic didn’t test for HSV1 or 2…. They said they only test for it if you have symptoms. Six months later, I got a really painful bikini wax, and my boyfriend’s lips were sunburned a little and cracked. Combine my thin skin and him shedding the virus without knowing, and I got HSV1.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD/STI?
Roller-coaster of depression, anxiety, withdrawal, anger, sadness…very little acceptance.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD/STI treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
Not really. I can tell they feel sorry for me, but most of them just want me to be strong and happy. I’m being careful to not tell anyone who I think will treat me like a leper.
8. Are you currently under treatment for your STD/STI? If so, please share whether you have explored prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or holistic and natural approaches.
I took Valtrex for my first outbreak. It was so painful I couldn’t walk. The medicine helped, but I don’t want to take viral suppressants. They make me moody/angry. (So does finding out you have an STD.)
9. Has having an STD/STI hindered past relationships?
I’ve never had one before now, so no….
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD/STI affected your partner?
No, we split after I/we found out for more reasons than the STD, but I have been severely depressed, and it would have been impossible to carry on any relationship.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD/STI whom you did not tell you had an STD/STI?
No, I would NEVER ever not disclose my STD with someone I expect to be intimate with/trust.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD/STI?
I’m not as happy-go-lucky; I feel a dark cloud is over me. Things feel not worth it…. I feel a blanket of sadness across my future.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I know I’m not alone. The sharing helps me fell less alone. I want to feel better, and it’s a tough thing to navigate with the stigma.
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!