Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
In compiling these interviews, it never ceases to amaze me the similarities across one another’s narratives, yet, still, how alone, hopeless, and ostracized we can feel. No matter someone’s age or background, the affect of an STD diagnosis – in this case, HSV2 – transcends all boundaries, and often leaves those who are diagnosed in the same excruciatingly lonely place.
Sometimes, that pain lasts a short while, and in other circumstances, the shame and fear can last for years. For me, it took nearly a decade to overcome the trauma of my diagnosis and the way I was treated as a result of it (in many ways, I’m still learning and growing).
This interviewee’s pain is unmistakable, and that is precisely why her story is so important. It is through one another’s shared experiences that we can find solace, and it’s imperative that these perspectives are shared – alongside the positive outlooks – so that we can begin to help one another cope.
Even if we cannot yet speak about these things openly, the simple knowledge that we are not actually alone in our struggles, despite how strongly it feels to the contrary, can provide the glimmer of hope that is necessary to face another day.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
Administrative staff person at a university
3. What STD/STI do you have/have you had?
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD/STI?
I was told of the exposure in December of 2010 and diagnosed in March of 2011.
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD/STI?
Yes. I trusted a man who I was in a monogamous relationship with for 4 years. He always used condoms, and I really appreciated not having to ask him to do so. After about 3 years, we just stopped using protection, and I was okay with that, because we were in an exclusive relationship. What I didn’t know was that he had herpes before I met him, and he’d known for about 25 years.
He never bothered to tell me. Even though, over the years, I shared with him my issues about sex, resulting from having been molested as a child. I told him how I’d carried that shame for decades and about the therapy I went through to try to have a life.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD/STI?
The feelings of shame I’d carried all my life have returned.
I used to want to get married again, but that thought is dead now.
I used to be active, and now all I do is eat and drink too much.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD/STI treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
No, I was very selective with who I told.
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.
No, I’ve only had one outbreak.
9. Has having an STD/STI hindered past relationships?
No. My husband and I were faithful to one another, and both of us were disease-free.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD/STI affected your partner?
No. I have herpes.
It’s ironic that the guy who exposed me to this crap has decided he’s not ready for a relationship. He could’ve made that decision before he ever spoke to me.
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 do that. That’s what was done to me, and that’s the ultimate expression of selfishness!
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD/STI?
I am depressed and lonely, and that’s nothing like I used to be.
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 doing this because I need someone to understand how I feel.
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!