Last Updated on February 18, 2021 by Jenelle Marie Pierce, CSE, Executive Director
Thank you, interviewee, for your honesty and candor about disclosing to past partners. It’s so important that we don’t beat ourselves up over the decisions we regret and instead, learn from those experiences.
You are not alone in having made that choice, only to regret it later, and those feelings help us to understand other people who are in similar situations. Most people have to learn things the hard way, and living with and talking about a long-term infection, like HSV2, is no exception.
Of course, the most ethical thing to do is to disclose that you have HSV2 before putting someone at risk, but that doesn’t always happen, and if we don’t recognize that that’s a common occurrence, then we can’t improve our communication. At Herpes.Education, we are interested in dismantling the stigma – the giant, complicated mess that stops us from easily disclosing our status. We want to see people become better, more communicative, more empathetic, and healthier partners, and that begins with us no longer villainizing people with herpes.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
3. What STI/STD do you have/have you had?
4. How long have you had or known you have an STI/STD?
I have had HSV2 since age 23, almost 15 years.
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
I had unprotected sex with someone who didn’t know they had it.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
I can no longer be spontaneous or free with love.
I have had a few hard lessons in understanding and overcoming a guilty conscious. It has made me honest.
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
Sometimes. The only people who I tell are potential lovers. Some guys never speak to me again after I tell them. But that is why I tell them, so they have the option and the freedom to choose.
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.
I use Valtrex once or twice a year.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
I have started a long-term sexual relationship without disclosing, only to regret it later. Partner finds it hard to trust again, understandably, and I feel terrible the whole time in between.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
I currently do not. I have had several long-term relationships, and to my knowledge, I have never passed HSV2. I have a child who is perfectly healthy as well.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting STI/STD whom you did not tell you had an STI?
I have. It has only been the past few years that I have started being completely honest with potential lovers.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
Having HSV2 has made me have a very keen awareness of my own body. It is a nervous system disease, and I am very sensitive to the slightest change caused by external stress.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
The stigma of this is so much worse than the actual suffering. Stay positive and love yourself first and foremost.
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!