Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
This reader, having initially submitted her interview via the contact form, was so inspired by her experience, she wrote a rhetorical essay about STD stigma for her college English class as well.
She’s also allowing us to post her essay as part of The STI Project, and we’re stoked! We’ll be showcasing her work in a 3-part series, so stay tuned for that.
Keep in mind, we encourage anyone who’d like to share their perspective – from the optimistic to the completely down-trodden. Everyone’s diagnosis experience is unique. It, typically, takes some time for folks to view an infection – in this case, HSV2 – with rose-colored glasses, and the process is important. For those who aren’t quite there yet, it can be reassuring to know that others have struggled, how they are choosing to view their diagnosis, and that they probably won’t always feel so utterly doomed.
This interview, in particular, is kind of like an ‘it gets better’ for STDs, and we just love hearing that someone is overcoming stigma. So, thank you, interviewee, for showcasing that positivity. Its infectious (pun intended); we can all use a little bit of a lift from time to time, especially when dealing with a subject such as this.
1. How old are you?
20 years old
2. What do you do for a living?
I am a full time college student!
3. What STI/STD do you have/have you had?
Genital herpes type 2 – HSV2
4. How long have you had or known you have an STI/STD?
About 8 months
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
Yes – from my ex-boyfriend
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
Honestly, since I have contracted herpes, I take life by the fricken horns, because there is NOTHING that herpes will stop me from doing. I like to accomplish or experience anything my heart desires, in spite of that stigma.
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
I have only told a couple of people, and, they have not treated me any differently!
My ex-boyfriend found it necessary to tell someone, and a rumor spread to all of the people I graduated with, which was not a fun situation whatsoever.
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.
Yes, I currently take valacyclovir, which is generic for Valtrex: 500 mg a day every day.
I haven’t had an outbreak since the first one 8 months ago.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
Well, I haven’t tried to have any relationships since contracting HSV2.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
No, I do not.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STI/STD whom you did not tell you had an STI/STD?
Unfortunately, yes. It was one time, completely by accident, because we were both highly intoxicated. I, luckily, wasn’t breaking out, and the guilt I felt after that made me never EVER want to do it again. So I promised myself I wouldn’t.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
I have so much more empathy and compassion for people, STD or no. I know that every person struggles with something, and everyone has a story.
I no longer judge people based on any sort of assumption I might have about them. I try not to assume anything about someone based on their current predicaments either.
Even though I wasn’t a ‘slut’ before I was diagnosed, I am now extra cautious about choosing sexual partners, because I know how EASY it is to contract an STD.
I haven’t had to tell a potential partner about my condition yet, however, I know that whoever I end up dating will ultimately love me and genuinely want to be with me for the right reasons, which I consider a blessing. I know that whoever I engage in sexual activity with will be doing it for the right reasons and not just to get some action. It kind of weeds out the bad eggs out there. 😉
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I am choosing to do this survey, because I want to show people that STDs can be a blessing in disguise, and life has so much more to it than dealing with an STD.
If you don’t want to feel guilty or shameful about having herpes – then don’t!
I’m here to tell you there are plenty of loving and caring people out there who will totally accept you and want to be with you regardless of your diagnosis. Don’t waste months or even years being depressed over something you can’t change. Life is full of surprises and mountains to climb, but in the end, you’re going to wish you had those moments back that you wasted being distraught over something so small. 🙂
Much love and positivity to everyone!
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!
- Would you like to share your STD story?
- An Op-Ed about STD Stigma – Part 1
- STD? What Now? Your Ultimate Reference Guide
- Would you like to read other STI Interviews?
- HSV2 – Info & Personal Stories
- Herpes – Resources & Personal Perspectives
I was just diagnosed a few days ago with HSV2. At first, I wanted to die. I thought my life was over & that I was doomed to live a horrible life. However, I have a boyfriend who is the absolute most amazing person ever that loves me no matter what. He tells me again & again that he will not leave my side. He plans on marrying me & having a family with me someday. This is still brand new to me so it’s still setting in but after reading articles on here, things are looking up. I choose life. Thank you.
Hi Allie –
I’m so glad to hear we’ve been able to help a bit and that you have a supportive partner – that certainly makes a diagnosis easier. You’re always welcome here as well.
Thanks so much for your message!