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Sometimes the hardest part about contracting syphilis or any other STD is not the symptoms or the medication but the ignorance that surrounds these types of infections. Unfortunately for those of us who get diagnosed with an STI, our education system is inconsistent and usually more problematic than it is helpful.
This leads friends and family to believe they might contract your infection from sharing a bathroom with you or drinking out of the same glass as you. Most of the time, they’re not trying to be cruel, they are just lacking in some basic information surrounding the way these infections behave and are transmitted. So, it’s not their fault, directly, but it can make you feel very isolated and misunderstood.
Eventually, with enough awareness and education, folks will understand the difference between a common cold and a sexually transmitted infection, like syphilis. But until then, we’re here to help. Thanks so much, interviewee, for your openness and for sharing your experience with syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections with us. Every story makes a difference!
1. How old are you?
21 years old
2. What do you do for a living?
I work part-time and go to college full-time.
3. What STD/STI do you have/have you had?
I have had syphilis, and also gonorrhea and chlamydia. Right now, I have herpes type 2.
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD/STI?
I got diagnosed with syphilis and then gonorrhea and chlamydia all around the same time a little while back. I have known about the herpes type 2 for 9 months now.
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD/STI?
I contracted them by hooking up carelessly. Because I’ve had a lot of partners, I really have no idea who I got them from.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD/STI?
I am more careful about having casual sex.
I now take medication daily in order to protect myself and others.
I realize now how easy it is to become infected. But I also have learned that having an STD/STI doesn’t mean you can’t have sex anymore or that nobody will want to be with you.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD/STI treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
Sometimes they do, yes. Some friends and family think that they’ll become infected by sharing drinks.
A friend I’ve always had sexual experiences with became much more cautious about messing around with me, but I understand. Occasionally, he’ll forget I have it and want to go through with sex, and other times, it’s like he’ll remember right before we mess around, and he won’t want to do anything.
8. Are you currently under treatment for your STD/STI? If so, please share whether you have explored prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or holistic and natural approaches.
I was treated for syphilis and then gonorrhea and chlamydia with a prescription, and I think they gave me a shot too – that was a little while ago. Those infections go away after treatment.
I currently take Valacyclovir (Valtrex) for suppression therapy for herpes type 2. I have never experienced an outbreak, but I take the pill daily just in case. I think it’s the best thing I can do for my protection and others’ protection.
I also take Truvada (PrEP) to prevent HIV. I take Truvada every single day.
9. Has having an STD/STI hindered past relationships?
I have not been in a monogamous relationship since these experiences. Fortunately, I don’t believe that these STD/STI experiences will hinder my future relationships, though, so I’m not worried about it.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD/STI affected your partner?
I don’t have a significant other.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD/STI whom you did not tell you had an STD/STI?
Yes, I’ve continued to hook up since I’ve contracted herpes. I don’t tell people I hook up with, because I have never had an outbreak and I do the suppression therapy.
Until I have an outbreak, I typically don’t feel like I should disclose that unless I’m directly asked. I would not hide it, but I don’t openly talk about it.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD/STI?
I’m more careful now and more aware. I’ve become more responsible since I take medication daily.
Since I know what it is like to go through having an STD, I help friends and other people get the information and treatment they need.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I wanted to participate in this interview because I wanted to share my story. I wanted to hopefully relate to any other LGBT individuals. I want others to know how I handle my situation.
Maybe I could set an example or maybe I could learn to handle it even better than I am 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!