Last Updated on July 29, 2021 by Stacy Sampson, DO
I sat down this evening intending to write about the recent awards The STI Project has received, and I will, don’t worry, because they are super super cool and I have a really awesome discount to give all of my readers for their STI testing needs as a result!!! So, I promise, I’ll get to that.
However, my mind’s a bit scattered lately, and I am drawing inspiration from the things which have come up while being a proponent for The STI Project this week.
Just Before I Sat Down To Write This Post
I walked out to get my mail and caught a glimpse of my neighbor dancing in the kitchen. I could faintly here music coming through her exterior walls as I walked to the front porch and was immediately uplifted. (Sorry, neighbor, if you’re reading this – my partner and I dance in the kitchen all of the time – it fills me with joy to see someone else doing it too!)
I envisioned her listening to Paul Simon as I have also spent countless times dancing around my parent’s living room and subsequently, dancing around my own living rooms and kitchens to Paul Simon – sometimes by myself as my neighbor appeared to be doing tonight, sometimes with others as well – we’re always up for a reason to dance, and Paul Simon is just the ticket.
Regardless of what she was listening to, she was dancing. All of the week’s worries and even the triumphs were stolen from my mind as I reveled in her physical expression of happiness. I can only imagine why she was dancing….but, the why seems so unimportant.
(I’m not getting paid to plug Paul Simon tonight, I swear!) As an aside – the last link is my favorite – it has always elicited complete unabashed and wild moves out of the whole family! Someday, I’ll post a video of this for comedic relief…
STI Masterclass: Breaking Through the Fear, Shame, and Stigma of an STI Diagnosis
If you’re fed up with feeling unworthy, less-than, damaged, or limited by your STI, then join the next cohort in the 60-Day Masterclass, and leave feeling empowered, knowledgable, and confident again!
Living With Stigma
How often are the positive things we encounter overshadowed by the negative? How often does living with an STI/STD overcome your attempts at being optimistic?
Until recently (since having begun The STI Project), living with an STI has affected me minimally. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve experienced heartless reactions as a result of contracting an STI or had to cope with the daily trepidation one encounters while knowing they have a secret that’s highly stigmatized by pop-culture – a shame they feel obligated to burden alone – and a precursor to all future relationships.
Mainly, this is because I’ve lived with an STI for nearly 15 years (my story). It’s easy for me to forget some of the initial pain and the horrible responses I’ve received – especially, while I was in high school. Yet, I knew they still existed and that others were facing them – which was why I started The STI Project, of course.
However, the misconceptions and judgments have been coming out of the woodwork again. Things from, “I wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole'”..(in another sentence)…”HPV isn’t an STI, I just don’t believe that” to “just because she has an STI doesn’t mean she needs to get on her soapbox and talk about it!”
First: I laughed about the ten-foot pole comment. When that was said, I wasn’t proposing a sexual encounter – presently, I have a very willing partner for that.
I have never (other people’s experiences have been different, albeit) been rejected as a result of an STI.
The STI Project aims to curb those harsh reactions for ones containing substantial knowledge about the STI in question and ones with greater compassion toward others.
I don’t expect everyone to want to “jump right in bed” with someone with an STI. I don’t expect ANYONE to want to “jump right in bed” with ANYONE, actually, unless that’s your style. (It is important to note: The STI Project makes no judgement toward those enjoying partnered sexual activities – The STI Project simply says, one should advocate for themselves by educating themselves, practicing the risk reduction methods that make sense for them, and getting tested.)
Second: HPV is an STI/STD.
I don’t know what more to say about it other than this is another reason The STI Project is necessary. There is incredible ignorance around STIs – a what you don’t know won’t hurt you kind of mentality.
The trouble is, what you don’t know can hurt you in the form of the all the different STIs listed here. And, you certainly don’t have to take my word for it – I pull my information from The CDC, The American Sexual Health Association, Planned Parenthood, The World Health Organization, and The U.S. National Library of Medicine, to name a few.
So, in short, HPV is an STI/STD, period.
This is another phenomenal reason The STI Project exists: to provide reputable STI resources all in one super-duper location. (The super-duper is subjective, of course.)
Third: Because I have an STI is precisely why I SHOULD fashion my very own soapbox (called The STI Project) and talk about my experiences. It is from those narratives and those of others living with an STI society will grow and from which the stigma around living with an STI/STD will be eradicated.
That others are appalled by my choice of venue, by the openness to which I share my personal history, and what I have chosen as my vocation is yet one more reason The STI Project is hitting the mark. The stigma can be perpetuated by people with and without STIs alike and neither are acceptable in The STI Project’s book.
So, readers……here is how all of this relates back to my beautiful neighbor dancing in the kitchen tonight. I bet you were wondering how in the world I was going to tie this all back together, huh?!?!?!
As soon as this posts, I will also dance in my kitchen for all of you. I will dance for the people who are living with an STI, who are scared, hurting, and feel lost.
All of the feedback I receive – positive AND negative – further encourages me to try harder – I have my work cut out for me, I know, but I believe in the overall good in people and the power of change.
This stigma can be eradicated and The STI Project aims to do just that (ie. continue sharing stories and promoting awareness, education, and acceptance)!
Living with an STI/STD is not the end of the world and is merely a speed-bump to all of the things you will accomplish in life.
Don’t let it stop you from dancing either. 🙂
What do you think about some of the comments you read above? Have you heard similar remarks or do you think they are warranted? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
- How to Not Give an Eff about Having an STI
- All about Herpes Disclosure
- Blog Posts about Living with an STI/STD
- STI Stigma
- STI/STD Resources
- STI/STD? What Now? Your Ultimate Reference Guide
- The STI Project
- The 1st Time I Heard About STIs
- Additional HPV Info
- STI/STD Stigma
- Thomas JA, Ditchman N, Beedle RB. The impact of knowledge, self-efficacy, and stigma on STI testing intention among college students. J Am Coll Health. (2020).
- Hood JE, Friedman AL. Unveiling the hidden epidemic: a review of stigma associated with sexually transmissible infections. Sex Health. (2011).
- Wombacher K, Dai M, Matig JJ, Harrington NG. Using the integrative model of behavioral prediction to understand college students’ STI testing beliefs, intentions, and behaviors. J Am Coll Health. (2018).
- Lee ASD, Cody SL. The Stigma of Sexually Transmitted Infections. Nurs Clin North Am. (2020).
- Hutchinson P, Dhairyawan R. Shame, stigma, HIV: philosophical reflections. Med Humanit. (2017).
- Tan RKJ, Kaur N, Kumar PA, Tay E, Leong A, Chen MI, Wong CS. Clinics as spaces of costly disclosure: HIV/STI testing and anticipated stigma among gay, bisexual and queer men. Cult Health Sex. (2020).
- Shepherd L, Harwood H. The role of STI-related attitudes on screening attendance in young adults. Psychol Health Med. (2017).
- Newton DC, McCabe MP. Sexually Transmitted Infections: Impact on Individuals and Their Relationships. Journal of Health Psychology. (2008).
- Charlton BM, Hatzenbuehler ML, Jun HJ, Sarda V, Gordon AR, Raifman JRG, Austin SB. Structural stigma and sexual orientation-related reproductive health disparities in a longitudinal cohort study of female adolescents. J Adolesc. (2019).