Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Saurabh Sethi, MD, MPH
The immense stigma associated with having an STD, and in this case, HSV2, affects not only the person who’s diagnosed but is also commonly the reason why those who transmit their infection to others flee. The stigma associated with having a sexually transmitted infection and then the shame of transmitting it to someone else can be too much to bear.
The unfortunate part about this is not that a partner leaves with little explanation – as our interviewee states, her diagnosis might actually help her weed out the jerks – but it’s that it leaves both parties confused and in an even more delicate emotional condition. It is often the psychological impact of contracting an STD that is most devastating – not the physical symptoms.
That’s why it’s important we share these stories, so we can slowly erode the immense shame associated with contracting and transmitting an STD. Ultimately, this will empower partners to communicate responsibly about their sexual health without feeling the need to disappear.
Until then, prince charming turned out to be just another frog.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
I’m a corporate attorney.
3. What STI/STD do you have/have you had?
4. How long have you had or known you have an STI/STD?
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
Yes. I contracted it from a boy I am dating (or was dating). I never knowingly had sex with him without a condom, but he admitted to taking it off a few times ‘for more sensation’.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
It’s been 3 weeks, and I am devastated beyond words. I am still in disbelief.
To make matters worse, the guy who gave it to me, I haven’t seen him since I told him about my diagnosis 3 weeks ago. According to him, he’s afraid I’m going to hurt him.
I have a feeling he already knew he had this disease. Why? His reaction was not one of surprise the way mine was. He has also not gone to get tested yet, because he keeps saying work is busy. Who does that after being told they could possibly have an STD?
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
No. I haven’t told anyone except the guy who gave it to me. I’m so embarrassed.
I am the apple of my parent’s eyes. I got straight As and went to Ivy League schools. When all my cousins were running around getting pregnant at 16 and 17, I was going off to college on a scholarship. My family would love to hear this about me, so they can feel like I’m not ‘perfect’ – even though I’ve never seen myself that way, just studied hard, but that, in their eyes, has made me an outsider.
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 took Valtrex for 10 days twice a day. To ease the itching, I took cool showers.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
I haven’t gone there yet. I’ll probably join PositiveSingles.com and other similar sites.
I could never, in a zillion years, admit to someone I have herpes. I’d rather date on a site where I know it won’t be a shock. Maybe in the years to come I’ll get more comfortable.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
No. The guy who I was dating and who gave it to me all but disappeared. I’m still stunned by that – he told me he loved me and wanted us to have kids and move in together. This was a guy who I would see at least 4 times a week for the past 6 months, and now I haven’t seen him in 3 weeks and HE gave it to ME!! The irony!
Maybe the only plus of this is that it will weed out the jerks.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STI/STD whom you did not tell you had an STI/STD?
No. I have no desire to even think about sex – at least for another year – I need to reflect on how I got myself in this situation in the first place.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
Right now, I am still stunned this happened to me… It’s true, STDs do not care about race, income, education level, etc.
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 participating in this because I was hungry to hear others’ stories, and I hope someone can read mine and not feel so alone.
I am not promiscuous – I’ve only had sex with 3 guys in my entire life, and the third time was indeed the charm. I’m working on not feeling dirty and building my self-esteem from scratch.
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!