Naturally, when anyone is first diagnosed with HPV or HSV2, their first thought usually centers around how they contracted the infection, with the second most common thought following shortly thereafter: who is going to want to date me now that I have a long-term infection?
While some people will choose to date someone else, there will be people who are interested, because they are looking at more than just your STI status or you as a sexual being. As always, The STD Project totally respects one’s right to not date someone with an infection, but we love the practical approach this reader (and her doctor) has toward her status.
Ultimately, it’s just skin condition. To the right person, it won’t matter.
1. How old are you?
I’m 32 years old.
2. What do you do for a living?
I work for the government.
3. What STD/STI do you have/have you had?
I have HSV2 & HPV (both genital warts and high risk HPV).
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD/STI?
About 6 months with HSV2 and a year with HPV
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD/STI?
I got very drunk at a going away party just before I deployed to Afghanistan. I ended up going home with someone just as drunk, and we neglected to use condoms. He didn’t tell me he was positive (I think he gave me all three STDs), and I had my first HSV outbreak four days later on a military flight headed to the Middle East. The first wart appeared about two months after our encounter. Because I was deployed, I had to wait nine months to get diagnosed and treated; it was kinda rough mentally – more so than physically.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD/STI?
You know, it hasn’t really changed at all.
To quote my doctor, ‘This really isn’t a big deal. The HPV will probably clear up on its own, and as for the HSV, it’s an inconvenient skin condition, not death, social ruin, or otherwise. Don’t let it get to you.’
I was dating someone when I was diagnosed who was HSV2 positive themselves, but they didn’t tell me until after we had broken up. I was devastated at the thought I had given it to him, and he was sneaky enough to let me think that I had. He admitted later he was too ashamed to tell me at first and was afraid after I got diagnosed that I would blame him. Needless to say, he’s an ex now.
Herpes doesn’t decrease your self-worth.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD/STI treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
I had one friend who was a little judgy about it at first, but once I educated her on how one gets ‘the Herp’ and what it actually entails, she’s been nothing but supportive.
Everyone else has been wonderful and kind about it.
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’m on suppressive therapy for HSV: 1gm of Valtrex daily. It’s a bit pricey ($1/pill with insurance, but I haven’t had a single outbreak since I began taking it.)
I’ve used Aldara/Imiquimod for the warts, which works well for me.
9. Has having an STD/STI hindered past relationships?
People lying about their status is what has impacted my relationship!
I am now single and have not yet started to date again.
I’m a little nervous people will lose interest when they find out I have herpes, but on the bright side, it is a good way to separate out the people who are actually interested in me as a person.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD/STI affected your partner?
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD/STI whom you did not tell you had an STD/STI?
After what happened to me, not only contracting it, but having a partner lie and let me think I had given it to them, I’ve sworn I’ll never lie to a partner about it. I don’t want to rob my partners of having the right to make the choice I was never given.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD/STI?
I’ve gotten much more accepting of myself; you can run around feeling terrible all day because you’re ‘dirty’ or ‘unloveable,’ but you’re not.
Like my doc said, this is just a skin condition.
I’ve also gotten much more accepting of others. I don’t want to be judged for an honest mistake, so I don’t judge much myself.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
There’s so much stigma surrounding this that I want to share my story so others know they aren’t alone. The worst part of my diagnosis wasn’t the permanence of it, but the loneliness and the self-inflicted stigma. I don’t want anyone else to feel as badly as I initially did about this.
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!