Relationships and living with an STD – in this case, HSV2 – can be complicated. No one wants to be rejected by a partner, even though it happens to everyone. However, a rejection or what feels like a rejection as a result of an infection can truly erode your self-worth because of the incredible stigma associated with all sexually transmitted infections and diseases.
This interviewee bravely shares how she’s handling the stigma and her partner’s uncertainty around her diagnosis.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
I recently completed college, and I am still searching for jobs.
3. What STD/STI do you have/have you had?
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD/STI?
About 1 year
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD/STI?
Yes, unprotected sex
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD/STI?
I am more cautious about sex and relationships.
I am taking better care of myself: I try to exercise and eat as healthy as possible.
I also find that I’m really sensitive; I cry behind closed doors and scream aloud. I feel crazy at times, but it helps. Then there is depression, anger, emptiness, shame, and loneliness.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD/STI treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
Somewhat, I didn’t tell that many people, not even my mother, because I just don’t think they will understand. The few I tell are OK with it, but I can feel the pity and distance sometimes.
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.
Yes, I was recently put on Acyclovir (suppressive therapy), as I was having an outbreak (OB) at least twice per month. I also take vitamins, and I drink a lot of water.
9. Has having an STD/STI hindered past relationships?
Yes, rejected at least twice.
I’m no longer confident to talk to guys. I see someone I like, and then it hits me. I hear a little voice saying,’he will never be with you with your curse!’
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD/STI affected your partner?
Yes. He was accepting at first, but now he seems scared. He told me he will never accept it, and our relationship isn’t going anywhere. It breaks my heart, because I love him. He is still around, though, but I have accepted the reality of our future, sadly.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD/STI whom you did not tell you had an STD/STI?
Yes, shamefully. My current partner. I finally told him, though, and I he handled it fairly well.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD/STI?
My view on life has changed.
I am giving myself more attention, and I realize that I didn’t love myself as much as I thought I did, or I would have been more careful with my body. I am more committed to self-love and acceptance than anything else.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I need somewhere to start speaking up about my situation. I think people have been allowed to have negative views about herpes for way too long, and I want to be apart of the movement to erase the stigma associated with it.
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!