Just a quick thank you from The STD Project to the individual who shared this story – participating in the STD Interviews is one of the best ways to help others facing similar circumstances and will go a long way toward breaking the stigma!!
It is also very difficult to do – sharing a personal experience, one which is still fresh/ongoing, and often creates polar responses is challenging, to say the very least. It takes courage.
One story at a time, we’ll erode the misconceptions, but in the meantime, each of these stories is helping others to heal – the individuals putting their thoughts on paper as well as the ones reading the stories.
Much <3 from The STD Project to all of you!
1. How old are you?
I am 27 years old.
2. What do you do for a living?
I am a teacher.
3. What STD do you have/have you had?
I have molluscum contagiosum.
I have had BV and yeast infections, but I’m not sure they were sexually transmitted in nature.
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD?
I was diagnosed about 6 weeks ago.
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD?
I have my ideas, but I don’t know for sure.
It showed up about two weeks after I had a new sexual partner, but he and my other partners all deny having it.
It’s interesting how I could have gotten it from a number of people that don’t have it; so, someone isn’t telling the whole truth, or doesn’t know they’ve got it yet.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD?
I have become pretty paranoid.
Every time a bump or mosquito bite shows up on my body, I’m afraid it’s another molluscum lesion.
I haven’t been able to have sexual intercourse with my boyfriend, since condoms don’t protect against it. When we fool around, he wears a vinyl glove to touch me. I now use a glove to wash the area of my body that is affected.
It’s been an emotional experience for me. I still feel shame, and wonder if I would have been ‘more careful’ or ‘less promiscuous’ if I would still be facing this situation.
I was pretty upset at the nurse practitioners who diagnosed me and treated me at first. They kept telling me that it ‘wasn’t a big deal.’ One even discouraged me from getting treatment. I don’t know if she thought telling me that would make me feel better about it, but it definitely did NOT. She said it would probably go away on its own in 6 months.
No sex for 6 months? No thank you! Are you kidding me? Sex was a big part of my life! It is a VERY big deal.
I’m grateful that I don’t have an STD that’s untreatable or incurable, but still, it has affected me, and I didn’t want to feel dismissed for feeling the way I did about it.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
I used to have multiple partners, including the person I think gave this to me.
Having molluscum contagiosum (MC) really brings to light who wants you for you, and who wants you for your body. Most of my partners have kind of faded away.
My primary boyfriend, who I love and who loves me very much, has been very understanding, but sometimes admits that he doesn’t know what to say to me or how to help me.
My friends have been very kind, well, the ones that know. There are a number I’m afraid to tell for fear they’ll see me in a negative light.
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’m currently going every 2 weeks to a public health clinic to get lesions frozen off (cryotherapy). It seems to be going well, but every time I’ve gone there have been new lesions, in spite of how careful I am being. I am crossing my fingers for the appointment next week, that finally, I will be cleared of having it.
My primary boyfriend is in pharmacy school, and we read on the CDC website that salycylic acid can help make the lesions go away, so he is going to help me get some (over the counter, but behind the pharmacy counter) and apply it to the lesions.
I have done some work just trying to get/stay healthy overall, like exercising and eating lots of healthy vegetables, as having a healthy immune system helps your body fight the lesions faster. Part of me wants to get some echinacea or some other supplement that help boost immunity to help my body fight the virus on its own.
9. Has having an STD hindered past relationships?
I’ve lost partners after telling them I had it, which, is sad. They weren’t serious or anything, but it didn’t seem like they wanted to have much to do with me after finding out about it, at least, while it was still affecting me.
The man who I think gave it to me said he wanted to continue seeing me, but has failed to do so.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD affected your partner?
I have a primary boyfriend I have been seeing for almost 8 years. It has not made him love me any less! It has changed our sex lives, however, as I mentioned above.
He is seeing another girl, and has sexual intercourse only with her, which, makes me a little sad. I understand that for now, it has to be this way, and I’m glad that he still gets to enjoy sex, even if it’s not with me. It doesn’t bother me that he has sex with her, just that he can’t with me, and I get a little green-eyed about the whole situation.
He does not have molluscum, and I am very grateful that is the case.
Before I was diagnosed, I thought the lesions were just shaving irritations, and he and I definitely had sexual intercourse with a LOT of skin to skin contact in the area I have lesions. I’m so glad I didn’t pass it to him, or my other partners.
We got lucky, and I’m very happy about that.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD whom you did not tell you had an STD?
Another (new) partner wanted to masturbate me, and I kept telling him no, but he kept pushing. I ended up letting him, telling myself that if he didn’t touch the place I had the lesion, he would be okay. I feel pretty bad about it, but he washed his hands well immediately afterwards, so, I’m hoping he will be okay.
If I could have gone back and done it again, I would have been more firm about my ‘no’.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD?
I have a much different view of casual sex.
People will lie to get what they want, and you may have to pay the price.
Trust has become a bigger part of sex for me. I have to know a person much better before I will consider having sex with them. I would like to limit the amount of partners I have, and be better at talking about STD’s before having sexual contact.
I got lucky this time – getting a disease that is curable. I know I just as easily could have gotten something that would have been a lot harder to deal with.
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?
Having an STD kind of makes me feel like a modern day leper.
I feel ashamed and stigmatized. I feel separated from other people.
I want other people who get STDs to know that they are not alone, and their worth as a person is not gone just because they got an STD. I want to feel that myself!
I think that having people talk about their experience with STDs will help put a human face/voice with a disease. Ultimately, it’s PEOPLE that are affected; mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, etc.
Before I had MC it was easy to write off people that contracted STDs and have an attitude of ‘It couldn’t happen to me, because I’m ________.’ No, it can.
If you have sex, it can happen to you.
I want people with STDs to be treated with kindness and compassion, and I hope sharing my experience can help us as a society to move in that direction.
Did you have a similar experience? How did this interview affect you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!