Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Saurabh Sethi, MD, MPH
Thank goodness for interviews like this!
All of the perspectives shared on The STI Project are anonymous, authentic, and absolutely necessary, but I love to see the progression that happens after the initial shock and shame. While every experience in our life alters our perspective and changes how we view subsequent related events, that change doesn’t have to be for the bad. Of course, the period right after a diagnosis is almost always pretty awful, but I feel inspired by your words, interviewee, that with a little bit of research and outreach, the fear and confusion doesn’t have to last long.
Thank you so much for sharing with us. You’re so very right that far more people have HSV (1 or 2) than we realize or the statistics report, and an HSV diagnosis can be a catalyst for greater self-awareness and empowerment if we allow it!
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?
5. Do you know how you contracted this STI/STD?
Same way as everyone else – sex with a person who had it. He claims to have not known he had it. It was a casual thing. He was not even close to being “the one” so it ended pretty quickly after I found out.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
I got a great job. I found an amazing man who I think is “the one,” and I figured out how to be more open and honest in my relationships with others.
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
I was honest with 6 of my closest friends and some family – turns out 3 of my friends have it too.
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 take valtrex 1x per day and do not get any outbreaks. If I miss a few days, I’ll get a small outbreak. I have done a lot of research, and I feel comfortable taking it daily. I was pretty heartbroken at the beginning that I might have to be on meds for life, but it doesn’t bother me anymore.
Interestingly, my swab culture during my 1st outbreak was positive for HSV2 but my blood tests (2) have been negative – even a year or so out from the diagnosis. I assume it’s from the meds.
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
I have told 3 guys that I have dated. One thanked me for being honest then never called again. One said it didn’t bother him at all and we had a fun casual short term thing. My current BF told he had HSV1/cold sores when I told him, and he wasn’t put off at all.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
Yes, we’ve been together 2 yrs. I asked him to get tested for everything a couple of months into our relationship and guess what – he also has HSV2 and didn’t even know it (almost positive it was not from me – I think it was too soon for it to show up via blood test if it was me).
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’ve been honest with all 3 that I’ve dated since.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
I had to get comfortable with vulnerability pretty quick and put myself out there. And I decided early on that this did not define me. This is just part of who I am, but a very small part.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I want people to know that they are not their STD. And they haven’t done anything different than many other people – had a sexual relationship with someone. Given that I still test negative and I’ve had a few friends who have never had a significant outbreak and didn’t even know until a blood test, I think this is far more common than what is reported.
Yes, it feels bad at first – you feel guilty, dirty, like no one will love you again, you’ll never have sex again. I get it. But those things are not true. This did change my life, but in ways that have actually been wonderful.
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!