Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Nancy Carteron, MD, FACR
Thanks to our most recent anonymous submission to the STI Interviews, we now have a male’s perspective about what it’s like to live with herpes – HSV2, in particular.
While there are certainly similarities across all STD diagnosis and between sexes, my experience has often found some of the initial feelings and on-going struggles to be quite different.
Inherently, each sex thinks about things in a unique way and communicates discordantly – think about the studies referencing the difference between the number of words women and men say in a day – consequently, I think it only natural some perspectives vary across sexes when talking about STD diagnosis as well. Namely, I’ve seen a striking difference in how alone men feel, due, in part, to their natural tendency not to discuss personal things with male counterparts – testicular cancer vs. breast cancer comes to mind.
That STDs carry a heavy stigma only serves to further alienate those who contract one – male or female.
This is one man’s story about becoming more a little more reclusive after a herpes diagnosis and his efforts to overcome that fight or flight mechanism which resides in all of us.
Thanks so much for sharing your story – this is a great step in the right direction. In time, you’ll get there. It took me 14 years and I really think I’m still healing – heck, I started an entire online community due to how I was affected – if that’s not an indicator, I don’t know what is. 🙂
1. How old are you?
35 years old
2. What do you do for a living?
I am an IT professional.
3. What STD do you have/have you had?
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD?
8 years now
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD?
Yes, heterosexual protected sex
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD?
Somewhat uncomfortable to answer, but I see myself a bit differently and sometimes turn myself away from women I’m attracted to.
I am still relatively healthy but more in tune with my body nerves-wise when it re-occurs.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
Some ladies that I did have the disclosure talk with are fine. Others were okay for a moment and then gradually did the passive-aggressive fade away.
I don’t tell many people because the stigma is too great.
8. Are you currently under treatment for your STD? If so, please share whether you have explored prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or holistic and natural approaches.
I refuse to take a prescription out of my dislike of OTC drugs and privacy issues that arise with prescriptions.
So, I do the natural route: good rest, a good diet and avoiding triggers which I had to learn has helped.
IF I feel I might be prodroming [noticing early symptoms], I immediately take L-lysine: 1000mg daily for maintenance, 3000mg during an OB [outbreak] and I heal a lot quicker.
9. Has having an STD hindered past relationships?
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD affected your partner?
Relationships aren’t even in my scope as much as they were before. It is probably just my own insecurity, but I really don’t think I’m relationship material at this juncture.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD whom you did not tell you had an STD?
I never do it during prodromal or OBs, and usually that person did not express any interest to stay around long term.
Sounds jacked up, but that’s my world.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD?
Yes, I pay attention to what I eat and try to keep stress down.
Negative changes includes me becoming a bit more reclusive and distant than what I once was.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with The STI Project?
I figured it would be good to put something out there.
I try to help people when I can about it, but it’s mostly uninformed uninfected people.
No one I know admits to having it…even HSV1.
It always gets the ‘ewwww’ face and expression when mentioned. I even heard a famous radio personality answering a letter on air the other day, and she answered the question like, ‘You said the man has herpes….ewww, I mean that isn’t good at all!’
That is the prevalent attitude and also the reason I am not 100% in disclosure.
It would turn into a witch hunt and I would be alienated regardless of what people think of me now.
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!