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This interview reminds me how important access to empathetic, inclusive, and comprehensive resources can completely change the outcome of an HSV2 diagnosis.
Sure, getting diagnosed with herpes isn’t ideal, but it’s also not the end of the world or even the end of dating, relationships, and sex. It can definitely feel that way at first, and it’s easy to get stuck if you don’t find folks and resources who can help, so that’s exactly why we persist. Maintaining a safe-space for all perspectives through story-telling has the potential to change the entire course of someone’s experience with herpes, and this interview is a perfect example!
Thanks so much, interviewee, for contributing to this work and helping break the stigma with your story. Just as other folks helped you, you too will help others with this simple act of bravery. Cheers!
1. How old are you?
I’m getting dangerously close to hitting 23!
2. What do you do for a living?
I’m currently honing in on my last semester of getting my bachelor’s degree in Accounting.
3. What STD/STI do you have/have you had?
I very recently tested positive for both HSV2 and a non-cancerous form of HPV, thanks to an abnormal pap smear/blood screen.
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD/STI?
I’ve officially known about both of my STDs for 5 days. Thank goodness I discovered this website so soon.
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD/STI?
I have no idea.
I will admit that the episode of Girls where Hannah finds out she has a strain of HPV and Jessa retorts, “All adventurous women do” hits really close to home, though.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD/STI?
After a tearful 24 hours, I finally realized that HSV2 isn’t a death sentence or even a big deal, as long as you surround yourself with the right people and realize that having an STD does NOT define you as a person.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD/STI treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
Not at all. The select few I have told have been nothing but supportive.
I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for a year now, and he decided against getting tested and realizes that as long as we’re knowledgeable about this little inconvenience, we have all the power. He’s a gem.
My parents went out of their way to make sure that I know they don’t love me any less.
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’m not under any prescribed treatment, but I have a strict vitamin regimen consisting of Vitamin C, Biotin, Vitamin D, and Zinc that I stick to each and every day. My doctor agrees with me that this is probably why I have always been/am currently 100% asymptomatic.
I do take birth control pills to regulate my cycle.
9. Has having an STD/STI hindered past relationships?
I just found out about my STDs, and I’m currently in the midst of a beautiful, mutually monogamous completely faithful relationship.
The right people will never turn you away for something biological.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD/STI affected your partner?
Yes, I do! At first he was very concerned, but mostly because of my extremely emotional reaction to my positive tests.
We have elected to be more mindful of protection, and to abstain from sexual contact while experiencing symptoms, if they ever arise.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD/STI whom you did not tell you had an STD/STI?
No. However, given the heavy social stigmas, I can completely see how this is so prevalent.
Take ownership! The right people will respect this.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD/STI?
As silly as it sounds, I have a newfound respect and admiration for my body.
I let go of my ridiculous previous thinking that those who have STDs have them because they deserve them. Having an STD is NOT an indicator of a promiscuous lifestyle. And if you do have a promiscuous lifestyle, so what? That’s your choice, but I would definitely advise becoming an expert in recognizing STD symptoms and becoming hyper-aware of the prevalence of STDs if you aren’t using protection.
Also, USE PROTECTION.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I’m choosing to participate in this because now that I’ve tested positive for HSV2, I realize how damning social stigmas can be.
Don’t judge, don’t criticize, but rather accept people and learn from their experiences.
Knowledge really is power as far as your sexual health is concerned.
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!