Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
This interview speaks to one of the many reasons why we must challenge the stigma associated with contracting an STD.
That someone has an STD does not mean they are a slut, promiscuous, a whore, etc. – whether they have engaged in sexual activities one time, ten times, or a hundred times. One’s sexual proclivity is only a single component to the many facets of risk. Education will help erode that misconception, but the personal experiences – the stories of those who are affected, despite how many times they’ve had sex – helps humanize a sometimes overly clinical approach to STDs and sexual health education.
Thank you, interviewee, for your willingness to share your perspective showing that an STD, and, in this case, HSV2, can affect people regardless of sexual history.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
Full-time student with a part-time job
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?
The first time I had sex.
Even though we had condoms, the guy began to penetrate without one, and I stopped him and asked him to use a condom.
That brief skin-to-skin contact still haunts me to this day…
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STI/STD?
I went into a deep depression. I’m still trying to forgive myself and figure out who I am. I still feel utterly lost…
At first, I felt so disgusted with myself. I felt so much guilt and shame. I felt like I had let myself down.
I would play scenarios over and over in my head… ‘What if’ never left my thoughts. Those first few days were heartbreaking and unbearable. I would wake up from a wonderful dream only to be pulled back into my new reality. Upon waking, I suddenly felt a sense of doom, anxiety, and fear.
Oh, how I desperately wished I was dreaming. I spiraled into depression as I silently suffered, and I tried to figure this out on my own.
Thankfully, those feeling did subside, to some extent. I still suffer depression symptoms but not as acutely as before.
Now, I feel like I’m mourning the ‘normal’ life I’ll never have. I will never be able to experience unprotected sex without the knowledge and fear that I could pass this along. I wont be able to have the normal HSV risk-free vaginal birth I always dreamed about. And I will forever have this cloud hanging over me when starting a new relationship.
I wish I could say that I have overcome this and I’m a better person for it, but I cant. I still struggle with it. But I hope that someday soon I’ll finally forgive myself and begin to move forward.
7. Do the people who know you have an STI/STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
No, thankfully. The only people who know, besides a close friend, are my sexual partners.
I couldn’t tell my family. I wouldn’t want them view me any differently or pity me.
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.
No. I very rarely get outbreaks. I have found it very hard to get a prescription when I’ve asked. The physician suggested I visit the office if I need it – what B.S!
9. Has having an STI/STD hindered past relationships?
It has only affected 1 out of 3 relationships. The guy became worried about contacting HSV, so he ended the relationship, which was totally acceptable. I would not have wanted him to feel uncomfortable.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STI/STD affected your partner?
Yes. It was never a problem for him. We just always use condoms. I wouldn’t be comfortable having sex without them.
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 could never do that to someone. I give a full disclosure if any sexual contact is likely to occur.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STI/STD?
I still have trouble coming to terms with having an STD. I’ve yet to forgive myself. I still carry a lot of guilt and shame. I have become more anxious and depressed because of it.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
To share my story. But I’m mainly doing this for myself. I have beat myself up for too long over this. I just want to be the carefree and fun-loving person I use to be. I just want to be happy again.
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!