Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
This interview came in anonymously via the contact form and touches on a number of excellent ideas surrounding STDs and HSV2, in particular.
While living with an STI/STD, we all encounter some of the same obstacles, and discovering we’re not alone via this kind of anonymous storytelling is a great way to learn how to tackle them. This interviewee experienced stigma from those she told about her infection, the fear of telling a new partner – having that dreaded talk – and also discovered that her infection does not define her. The transformation we undergo after a diagnosis is nothing short of challenging, but it certainly does not have to break us!
Thanks so much for sharing your journey with The STI Project – it will definitely be a ‘blesson’ for others!
1. How old are you?
21 years old
2. What do you do for a living?
Sales associate and a substitute
3. What STD do you have/have you had?
HSV2: Genital Herpes
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD?
About a year & two months
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD?
Yes. I know exactly whom I contracted it from.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD?
Overall, there haven’t been any drastic changes.
It has brought me a lot closer to God and strengthened my faith. The very beginning was an emotional roller-coaster. You have to find a way to cope with it and not let it drag you down. Some days it’s not easy, but it definitely is only as bad as you make it.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
Unfortunately, I’ve had two of five people I confided in treat me differently.
One of those people has since come around with a much better attitude and a positive outlook on the situation. They’ve also become a great part of my support system.
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, I currently do not have any health insurance.
Fortunately, I’ve recognized that stress is my biggest trigger, and I also rarely have an outbreak. I have, however, looked into natural remedies. When, and if, the time comes for me to rely on meds. to help with healing and symptoms, I’ll try those things.
9. Has having an STD hindered past relationships?
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD affected your partner?
I am currently in the process of trying to reconcile with someone. It is putting a strain on our relationship. He’s understanding and supportive, yet fearful of contracting HSV2.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD whom you did not tell you had an STD?
Yes, I hate to admit this.
It’s extremely embarrassing, and I feel so bad about it to this day. It is one of my biggest mistakes – an eye-opener, to say the least.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD?
First and foremost, besides the one occasion previously discussed in #11, I have only been sexually active with the person whom I contracted HSV2 from.
Sometimes I’m not sure if I simply ignore my status or if I just underestimated my strength. It has made me wiser and more empathetic toward others with STIs/STDs for sure.
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?
I’ve chosen to participate in this interview with hopes to be a ‘blesson’ (blessing & a lesson) to at least one person.
I want others dealing with STDs to know that every day won’t be easy and everyone won’t accept you. Still, those aren’t reasons to quit and give up.
STDs don’t discriminate! It’s said pretty often, but I do believe it’s overlooked. The guy I contracted herpes from is very well-kept, well-spoken, handsome, kind, and he’s also a sailor in the U.S. Navy. We had the ‘What’s your status?/When was the last time you got tested?’ conversation.
Even a person with good intentions and a ‘good’ heart may have a hard time disclosing their status. There’s nothing wrong with putting trust in someone, but if sex is involved, it isn’t worth the risk. Go and get tested TOGETHER! Be there and hold the proof in your hands.
Although I want to remain anonymous, I chose to share my story in hopes that someone else will, then someone else, and so on. A person is not their status. What I have is not what defines me as a person. Whether you’re living with an STI/STD or not, it’s going to take everyone stepping up to the plate to help end 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!