Herpes is Not the End of the World – STD Interviews

HerpesParticularly refreshing is this reader’s ability to, after just a month’s time, decide she’s not going to let her herpes diagnosis bring her down. Instead, she’s already choosing to focus on the positive aspects her diagnosis has elicited, which include, but are not limited to, improved health, and a renewed appreciation for the little things.

How I would have paid for her perspective some 14+ years ago when I was diagnosed at 16 years old! Needless to say, her determination to overcome the stigma associated with a herpes diagnosis and to see it for what it typically is: little more than a nuisance – is bound to inspire others as well. And for that, I say, cheers!

1. How old are you?

21

2. What do you do for a living?

Full-time student at a university

3. What STD do you have/have you had?

HSV – herpes simplex virus

4. How long have you had or known you have an STD?

1 month

5. Do you know how you contracted this STD?

Yes, from a good friend from my childhood whom I have known for 15 years and trusted completely. I do not sleep around or with random people ever, and a week after we had intercourse, I became extremely sick and found out the reason was HSV.

6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD?

I am a lot more self-conscious and very sad sometimes. I am normally a very positive person; so, I have grown a lot and am taking it one day at a time.

7. Do the people who know you have an STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?

Only one close family member knows and she has been nothing short of amazing. She has been my rock throughout this entire ‘adventure’, and I could not be so strong right now without her. I do not feel a need for any one else to know, because this is not life-threatening or life-altering in most aspects.

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 took antiviral medicine to get rid of my first outbreak. Now, I am living extremely healthy and exercising daily. In that aspect, HSV is a positive thing.

9. Has having an STD hindered past relationships?

I have not had any relationships since finding out, but I truly believe that I am going to find someone who loves me for all I am, and this is not going to matter.

10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD affected your partner?

No.

11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD whom you did not tell you had an STD?

No.

12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD?

I never thought this could happen to me. I have learned that STDs do not discriminate.

I am a full-time student with many friends, a great social life, upper-class, and have everything going right for me. So, I take this as only a step back like everyone experiences in life. This is not deadly and can be controlled – it is not as bad as people make it seem.

In some ways, I feel like I am going to grow from this. I will never just sleep with anyone and am going to wait for the right guy to come along.

I am learning to value myself for my inside beauty not just my sexual appeal.

13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with The STD Project?

I wanted to share my story, because people need to realize this is not anywhere close to the end of the world. Yes; it is annoying, and I do not look forward to further outbreaks. Yet, my outlook is that I can control these outbreaks by my lifestyle choices, which will benefit me overall greatly.

I have huge goals and dreams which are already becoming a reality, and nothing so small will stop me.

As for  a relationship, I know I am going to find the perfect guy for me. I have a lot of wisdom for my age, and I know for a fact that this is an extremely minor bump in the road for relationships. There are so many issues that are detrimental and will instantly end relationships – herpes is not that, and if a guy tells me it is, I will laugh, because he is missing out on a successful, happy, loving, fun girl who is going far in life.

This is something that I cannot change; so, I am embracing it.

I am so thankful to be healthy, happy, loved by amazing family and friends, earning a college degree, and living life to the fullest in all ways possible. I am now learning to value myself more for all of these qualities instead of trying to find acceptance in sexual acts as I did in the past. If anything, I am slowly but surely enjoying every day to the fullest and living for the moment – which I never did before.

So, I hate you, herpes, for causing me to be in pain and depressed for a small amount of time, but thank you for helping me re-evaluate who I am, what I want, and how thankful I should be for the amazing life I’ve been given.

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!

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Comments

  1. Rummyk says

    Thank you for sharing your story & Janelle thank you for everything. I found out less than 8 hours ago that I have herpes. I was shocked, scared, and most of all embarrassed. To quote you “There are so many issues that are detrimental and will instantly end relationships – herpes is not that, and if a guy tells me it is, I will laugh, because he is missing out on a successful, happy, loving, fun girl who is going far in life” that is EXACTLY what I needed to see. Although I am in a new relationship, WITH the person I contracted the virus from, I still feel disgusting. I’ve always been that girl that got straight A’s and does everything by the book. I know everything happens for a reason; so I am going to move forward with your words in my head. Thank you

    • Jenelle Marie says

      Hi Rummyk -

      Thanks so much for your message – it’s always so great to hear my writing’s been helpful as that keeps me motivated to continue working toward our goals on The STD Project.

      I’m also so glad you found us right away! I think, educating yourself about the infection itself, and understanding the stigmas and misconceptions associated with it will go a long way toward helping you feel more at peace with the whole situation.

      Hopefully, your significant is supportive as well, but know, you’re always welcome here too.

      Thanks again for your message.

      • Rummyk says

        I’m glad I did too, I’ve been on your site almost all day! I just finished your podcast interview with P.Nickle! Today was a hard day for starters finding out I have herpes, but then telling my significant other whom I’ve only been dating a short time the news. He took it better than I would’ve thought; but then again he is who I contracted it from. I’m not angry with him I’m just in shock mostly and I was scared because I didn’t know any facts. He was very supportive when I told him, and i was a pretty big train wreck at the tome.My doctor saw me and the last minute and didnt have time to chat but her first comment being “oh honey!!!” It didn’t make me feel too great about myself. End of my rant but thank you for your site. It’s helped me overcome my anxiety today and I’ve already book marked a ton (:

        • Jenelle Marie says

          Rummyk -

          You are sooo very welcome – your message made my day and reaffirms why I’m doing this (some days, I wonder if I’m just nuts :) ), because I know how devastating a diagnosis is first-hand. It’s awful. Period.

          I’m sorry to hear your doc didn’t have the time she should have to deliver that kind of news – it’s a shame and a bit insensitive, although, not unlike a lot of others and my own experience, to be honest, but a shame, nonetheless.

          I’m honored to have been some solace, and, please, do not hesitate to return or ask questions as they come up.

          • Rummyk says

            I definitely don’t think you’re nuts. I think what you’ve created is amazing and without it, id prob still be crying as I search google and webmd =D off subject side note, I’m an accounting major and once I finish my bachelors I plan on getting my MBA and CPA, SO I felt even more at home when I found out that’s what you use to do. (Although I’m very thankful you’re not anymore, and created The STD project)

          • Jenelle Marie says

            Well, as you said, there’s a reason for everything; so, my having been an accountant was one of those blessings in disguise here… That’s awesome you’re pursuing the same thing! We’re kindred spirits.

            You’ll likely cry again, but that you’re doing your research right away and working through some of it so soon will be such a big help. Don’t beat yourself up if/when the tears come back. For a while, I chided myself for not being ‘over it’ as fast as I thought I should have been, and it took me years to realize I was being unfairly impatient with myself, as it’s quite normal to be permanently impacted by something that can affect both our physical health and emotional relationships.

            The experience very rarely leaves someone unchanged, but, I like to think, it’s always for the better – an un-welcomed character-builder, if you will.

  2. Alexandra says

    Jenelle,
    Thank you so much for starting this website. As I read this, it is 3:19 am and I am going to get a blood test tomorrow morning for herpes. I was able to get a culture in December when I thought I was having an outbreak, but it came back negative. This was relieving, but something about it has been bothering me for the past few months so I have finally mustered up the courage to take the blood test. I am almost positive I have it, despite the negative culture test.
    I am 19 years old and a full-time student at a state university with plans to get a double major. I am in a sorority, play lacrosse, and have plans to study abroad next spring. I never thought that this could happen to me. I want to thank you because as I have been dealing with this for a few months now, I have frantically searched every website for every bit of information and it was always scary and repetitive. The web articles make it seem like the end of the world, with many restrictions as to what you can and can’t do after being diagnosed.
    After reading this particular story ^ I am not worried about what the blood results will show in the next week. There is someone, just the same age as me with the same ambitions, who is dealing with this. And pretty well, if I might add. Seeing this makes me realize that I can do so too. I am usually an extremely positive person, and this situation has given me doubts about the person I thought I was. However, reading this article, and others on your website, has helped me regain the courage and confidence I know I have, but was suppressed by the idea of social rejection. I will embrace what the test results say and love myself no matter what, because I know who I am, and this small setback will not change that. My only concern is finding someone that will love me and want me, especially since many boys in college are extremely immature and simply looking to sleep around. I hope that in the future I can learn how to deal with this, and that I can find someone who will understand my position and not spread it as gossip to others. Other than this, I know that I can handle what the test results will show as well as any other situation that life may throw my way.

    Thanks again for all that you do. I look forward to reading future articles and hope you will continue to empower other girls like me to take steps in making a change. It is because of you that I have found myself again, amid the curveballs life has thrown.

    • Jenelle Marie says

      Hi Alexandra -

      You are so very welcome. It’s messages like these that keep inspiring me to continue working on The STD Project.

      You definitely can do it – no matter what your diagnosis may be, and I’m so proud to read that what you’ve found here has helped reaffirm that belief.

      Keep in mind, not ALL of the boys you’ll meet in college are immature and looking to sleep around irresponsibly… There definitely are those kind of folks out there, but they will be out there after college as well, and frankly, you deserve better than that. Sex is lovely, pleasure is good for the body and the soul, and whatever your outcome, you’ll still be able to enjoy a healthy sex life, and you will always deserve a loving, respectful relationship – someone who is just as concerned and committed to being responsible with their sexual health as they are to respecting yours. You might even find that this experience, regardless of whether or not you test positive for HSV, will help you weed out those who would risk your sexual health from those who are interested in a respectful and responsible relationship, and that’s a good thing.

      It’s probably fairly obvious, but I’m an eternal optimist – I like to think of myself as a realistic optimist, but an optimist nonetheless – and I prefer to see the positive aspects of the things we’re confronted with throughout our lives rather than focus on the negatives. The negatives are always there, and even I, with my optimism, get bogged down by self-doubt and worry randomly – and that’s ok and perfectly normal – it’s how we choose to handle that pain/worry/self-doubt that, ultimately, determines our character.

      Thank YOU for taking a moment to share your story and to let us know that we’ve been able to help, if only in the smallest way – that’s worth all of my time in the world all day. :)