Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Shuvani Sanyal, MD
Submitted anonymously via the contact form, this interview does an excellent job of touching on the self-analysis one undergoes after getting diagnosed with an STD. It’s never easy sharing an honest perspective like the one below, as it requires an interviewee to courageously ‘look their situation in the face’ in hopes of healing and not letting it entirely usurp them.
Unfortunately, it’s somewhat common for people to experience stigma similar to that which is described below from those in the medical sector – doctors, nurses, clinicians – people who are often the only ones someone confides in, and stigma that generally pushes patients further into depression or self-loathing. This is why these interviews are so important: so men and women have a non-judgmental outlet to turn to as they begin the emotional healing process.
This interviewee’s feelings are shared by so many, and knowing you’re not alone is one of the first and most important steps in being able to move forward.
1. How old are you?
I am 21 years old, almost 22.
2. What do you do for a living?
I am a writer and student.
3. What STD do you have/have you had?
Presently (and forever), I have HSV2 – genital herpes. I was diagnosed by a random doctor whom I have never again spoken to.
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD?
I was diagnosed at 19 years old. The doctor told me I was pretty young compared to most people he had seen who contracted this life-long virus. The fact that he said that has stuck with me since. He made me feel alienated – even from the population that had herpes – like, somehow, I failed even harder since I was so young.
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD?
Partaking in sexual intercourse with an infected person whom I did not know had the virus. (I would hope they didn’t know either, but hey, what can I do?)
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD?
Aside from the intense amount of self-hatred I experienced in the beginning, followed by months of depression that are still triggered frequently, my life is the same. My world didn’t end as I dramatically suspected it would, and I go about day-to-day life sometimes even forgetting, momentarily, that I have it.
I’m naturally a very ‘stressed’ person; so, I have intense, painful outbreaks monthly. Sometimes, I get lucky and they go away in a matter of days, but, often, that is not the case. Frequent outbreaks seem like a normal occurrence at this point. I’m always high strung; so, I’m always having an outbreak, which causes me to be high strung, which causes an outbreak. It’s a vicious cycle I have yet to escape, 2 years after being diagnosed.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
My ex-boyfriend who I had been seeing since I was 14 (he also has HSV2 – we don’t know who gave it to whom and we’ve never talked about it) and I are closer due to the virus. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, though. It has brought us together, but, I think, we may feel ‘stuck’ with each other like we’ll never find other partners who could possibly ‘accept’ us.
My (now ex-) boyfriend who I was dating when I found out I had HSV2 still treats me like gold. We attempted to date and have protected intercourse despite my ‘affliction’, but, ultimately, things didn’t work out, because I was too insecure and worried about transmitting the virus to him.
Even though I couldn’t accept his love then, he and I are still very close and talk on a daily basis. He still tells me he loves me when we talk, even though we’ve gone our separate ways. He gives me hope.
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.
I have no health insurance; so, I don’t go to the doctor, and I am not on any prescription medication to control my outbreaks or shorten their length. When I was originally diagnosed two years ago, I was given a prescription pill by my doctor, but it didn’t seem to help, and after I used up the prescription, I never had it filled.
I haven’t tried any other approaches but would be willing if I knew of any. A long, hot shower works wonders for the body and soul sometimes, though.
9. Has having an STD hindered past relationships?
Having an STD has hindered past relationships and still does to this day – not because I’ve ever had anyone choose not to be with me because of my herpes, but because of my own emotional baggage that I bring to the table because of it. It’s been 2 years, but I’m hoping I make a lot more progress emotionally soon.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD affected your partner?
Ex-significant others whom I both had sexual intercourse with. One remains HSV-free (we used protection, and I told him when I was diagnosed) while the other also lives with the STD like me. I told him when I was diagnosed immediately, since we were no longer dating, and he got tested and had it too. Like I said, we don’t know who had it first, and I don’t even dwell on that. I would actually prefer if he was the one who gave it to me, because I would feel really crappy if I gave it to anyone.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD whom you did not tell you had an STD?
Unfortunately, I also must answer yes to this question like many others. I felt too scared or embarrassed and ultimately was too selfish and immature. I feel like a truly horrible person because of it. Luckily, no one has been harmed as a result, but it easily could have been the opposite, and, for that, I am truly regretful over the situation.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD?
Honestly, my self-worth has depreciated, and I still don’t know if it’s ever coming back.
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 guess I don’t know. I’ve never really gotten to talk to anyone about it or even put any thought into a lot of these questions; so, its helped put things into perspective a bit. I wish I could become more optimistic like other people and self-accepting, so that others can accept me too. I want to be less-ashamed of existing.
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!
- HSV2 – Resources & Personal Perspectives
- Would you like to share your STD story?
- STD? What Now? Your Ultimate Reference Guide
- Would you like to read other STI Interviews?
- Are you looking for more information on Herpes?
Yes, the first couple of years of having Herpes is the worst… You haven’t quite figured out how to prevent and calm the sores… It will get better… That I can PROMISE. I currently am on
A valcyclovir HCl like Valtrex (not to be confused with the Acyclovir), and I have benn outbreak free for 7 of my 15 years. Look online for patient assistance in getting prescriptions… They do offer them for free or cheap…
That’s how I was able fight Herpes and not allow it to damper my life… The admin of this site also has many holistic approaches she uses. One day your life with be brighter and more optimistic than ever! And when this happens, the depression will subside, the confidence will return, and you will find a partner who loves you and accepts you, just the way you are!
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
On the holistic front, here’s a short list:
L-Lysine – a naturally occurring amino acid that can be found in a number of foods. Lysine supplementation has been anecdotally reported to be effective in ranges of 200 – 1000 mg a day. Scientific studies have shown conflicting results with lysine, but many people with herpes believe that it works well for them. Others have found it to have no discernible effect.
Garlic – reported to have anti-viral properties. Raw garlic cloves or garlic supplements.
Oil of Oregano – said by many to have anti-viral, anti-fungal, cleansing properties. Extract or capsules.
Numerous herbs and essential oils – inluding melissa, echinacea, tea tree, goldenseal, licorice, and others, have been tried as internal or external treatments, with varying results.
Reduction of foods high in the amino acid arginine – particularly chocolate and nuts, seems to help many; although, recent studies have indicated that arginine is an immune-enhancer. Many nuts contain essential fatty acids that are beneficial to the body. And, of course, many people feel better about life when they eat chocolate. Other recent studies have shown that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains compounds that are good for the immune system as well as enhancing the ‘feel-good’ chemistry in the brain.
Restriction of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and processed foods – widely reported as helping to curb outbreaks. These substances are very acidic which irritates the cells of the body. Coffee has been demonstrated to be a nerve stimulant, is highly acidic, and may have the effect of irritating the nerves and increasing outbreaks.
Hope this helps! 🙂