Last Updated on July 29, 2021 by Stacy Sampson, DO
Were I to say The STI Project’s mission is an easy endeavor and one without challenges or opposition, I would be lying to each and every one of you and losing sight of the very motto The STI Project is perpetuating: Be Authentic ~ Break the Stigma!
While I believe it is imperative to the mission itself, I challenge other’s preconceived STI notions and encourage constructive dialogue amidst the sharing of our unique stories, it is without question, in doing so, opposition and sometimes, harmful words will be exchanged.
Consequently, I have decided to address a particularly nasty comment I recently heard.
Everyone is Not Always Supportive
I’d love to be able to tell my readers everyone is always uplifting, supportive, and kind to one another. (So far, the vast majority have been!) However, were that entirely the case, our mission would be unnecessary. (I look forward to the day, though!) In the meantime, I’ll share the not-so-wonderful side of contracting an STI and living with one.
And then, as quickly as I write about it, I’ll drop it. (Of course, if you have an opinion, you are welcome to comment.)
Lastly, while reading what comes next, remember to look at this as a growth opportunity and without complete animosity toward the people who have said these horrible things… They, too, may change their minds one day, and it is important The STI Project is willing to love them, respect their opinions, and demonstrate understanding once they do.
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Sleeping With as Many People as Possible in order to Spread Your STI/STD
Someone had the gall to say I slept with people intentionally trying to spread my infection. And I’ve heard this voiced about others with infections as well.
To boot, I’ve heard this from more than one unrelated person. They assumed I was so angry about contracting an STI/STD, I proceeded to sleep with as many people as possible in order to spread my infection – a different iteration included me wanting to hurt as many partners as possible. (Read more about my opinion on anger and STIs in this post.)
My initial response included expletives – something along the lines of, “Are you kidding me?”
I wasn’t even certain whether to laugh or be terribly offended…
It was/is such an outlandish accusation I didn’t even want to address the sentiments at all, but then I began to chew on it.
Having heard this from a couple of people about myself and others, I wondered if people actually believed someone else would do something like that?! Again with the shock.
However, I remember having heard something similar about people who had contracted HIV/AIDS years prior. At the time, I thought it a horrible thing to do to someone else, and I never really thought about it again – until now. Back then, I think I believed someone probably had done it, because that’s what I had heard. I was also naive, probably high-school aged, and I believed most things I heard – gossip spreads like the plague, er, better yet, like STIs!
Anyways, I was guilty of buying into the gossip, as so many people are.
So, I thought about the whole concept some more. Could I believe people really were so mad about contracting an STI they would want others to experience the same thing and thus, would proceed to share their bodies with as many people as possible?
Who does that?!
To be honest, I don’t want to believe it.
Am I aware of all the horrible injustices and rotten things people do to one another all over the world? Yes. I still don’t believe this is true for most people. I don’t believe most people contracting an STI would wish their worst enemy to suffer the embarrassment, horror, fear, etc. that people generally feel upon first contracting an STI.
This would also mean the person trying to intentionally infect others would be subjecting themselves to additional STIs. Isn’t one hard enough?
All of that would then mean the people who contract STIs are rotten, vengeful, hateful people. And I know that to be untrue.
STIs Don’t Discriminate
Here’s the catch – STIs don’t discriminate. They don’t pick the meanest, most cruel people and infect only them. They can be contracted by anyone – even the people who say mean things about others (one of the folks uttering such hateful remarks later contracted an infection and came to me for help).
An STI doesn’t stop and ask a person how often they do nice things for others.
Needless to say, after digesting the comment and deciding how I felt about the sentiments, I decided to feel badly for the individuals who would believe it.
It is completely illogical, and it illustrates a lack of education and a complete disregard for others.
If you happen to also be of that belief, I encourage you to take a closer look. Do some research (there is some great info here and here), and inform yourself. I think you’ll be surprised by the things you learn.
And for goodness sake, and the sake of all my readers, get yourself tested – else, you may also be accused of “sleeping with as many people as possible in an attempt to spread your STI” too. *eye roll*
The STI Project will not rest until it has challenged all misconceptions – one at a time, if need be.
- How to Not Give an Eff about Having an STI
- All about Herpes Disclosure
- The 1st Time I Heard About STIs
- STI/STD? What Now? Your Ultimate Reference Guide
- STI Interviews
- Would you like to share your story in an STI Interview (publicly or anonymously)?
- STIs – The New Scarlet Letter
- About The STI Project
- STI Stigma
- 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).
FYI, although it certainly doesn’t apply to most people, some people DO intentionally spread STDs, including HIV. When I studied abroad years ago, the village I was in was in an uproar upon the confession and suicide of a man who had intentionally had unprotected sex with at least 3 dozen women, knowing he had HIV. There was the dentist a while back injecting people under his treatment with his infected blood. And more recently, there’s this guy: https://www.kxii.com/news/headlines/Pauls_Valley_man_accused_of_intentionally_spreading_HIV_143894626.html
Thank you for your comment! Quite possibly the story about the village and the 3 dozen women was the one I heard years ago. Albeit, I have no idea. I wonder if the majority of those cases could be prevented were the overall view of STDs – especially STDs that can be life-threatening – changed? While the life-threatening aspect can only be reduced to a certain extent, I think the knowledge of how prevalent they are and how living with them is often hassle-free would go a long way toward curbing the instantaneous judgement afforded to so many of those living with an STI/STD.