Courage is defined as mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty(Merriam-Webster). For anyone who knows me, I am a big proponent of honesty especially when it comes to sexual relationships. So in my social media presence, I share interesting info on how to talk about sex, and how to talk about sexual health. There are great sites out there that have great resources for information, support, and encouragement. Sadly, as many people that happen to have STIs, there is an even larger amount of sheer ignorance that continues to spread. Ignorance hurts everyone. There is no place for ignorance in the life of a person who considers themselves to be intelligent.
I told my STI story today. It was anonymous but it gave me the courage to share. I am not proud of my STI status but as much as I would like to wish it away, it will be with me until I die. So, I have had to make peace with it. Well, I had to make peace with it a long time ago. But as with anxiety, it is something that I can’t just put on a shelf. Also, because I do have STIs, I always tell potential partners before anything gets hot and heavy(For the record, I have been celibate for three years, FB let me know in my memories today).
So, if you are reading this and this is your first time hearing about this, it’s okay, you are hearing it from the horse’s mouth and I don’t care who knows, because there isn’t anyone that I had a sexual relationship with in the past who didn’t know. I have shared this info with people over email, text, in person, and on the phone(before texting was a thing). One reason why I am so adamant about people having sexual health talks is so that there can be one less person who has to cluelessly go to the clinic or ER because they think they are at the brink of death due to an STI. I believe that a sign of humanity is honesty. If you cannot be honest with yourself or with others, how are you helping the world? This is also why I have no sympathy for those who knowingly spread STI’s to others without letting the other person know. Just because a person wants to sleep with you maybe after just meeting you, doesn’t mean that they deserve to have something horrible happen to them(because STI’s aren’t roses).
Also, even though I feel that I am not the most loveable person because of my STI status, does not mean that I will not be happy for someone to prove me wrong 🙂
If you have never been tested for STI’s or you have had sex or are having sex with someone who gives you fifty plus reasons for why they just can’t bear to use a condom before having sex with you, please reconsider and go get tested. HSV can be tested with a blood test or if you are in the midst of an outbreak and sadly women are more likely to have symptoms before men. So please, for all things good in the world, go get tested. There are tons of places where you can get it done for free.
Here are the questions that I answered:
- How old are you?
I am 34 years old
- What do you do for a living?
I work in the education and tech field
- What STD/STI do you have/have you had?
I have HSV2 and had genital warts (HPV)
- How long have you had or known you have an STD/STI?
I have had both for seven years
- Do you know how you contracted this STD/STI?
With the HPV, I had warts and didn’t know what they were so I had my sister check me out and she told me to go to the clinic. With the HSV2, I had horrible symptoms for about two weeks or so when I had to drag myself to the hospital to get checked and was diagnosed at that time.
- How has your life changed since you contracted an STD/STI?
My life changed drastically. I have always been an honest person, but once I had interactions with people who weren’t honest and knew that I had to be upfront with people, I vowed to always let people know my status. I still feel a lot of shame and guilt, so I still have feelings that no one will ever want to be with me so my self esteem goes up and down about it. I have been celibate for three years.
- Do the people who know you have an STD/STI treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
No, my friends and family have always been pretty understanding, they just consider me to be loca, so they figure it was a result of my wild days. They treat me the same. They are often way more optimistic about my life than I am.
- 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.
No, when I was diagnosed with HPV, I had insurance and I was able to get Imiquimod(Aldara) and when I was diagnosed with HSC2 I was able to get Acyclovir(Zovirax). After the prescribed time on each medication, my symptoms cleared up. I try to maintain my health by using a holistic approach of L-lystine supplements and a plant based diet. I also exercise and do yoga to try and keep down my stress.
- Has having an STD/STI hindered past relationships?
The person who gave me HPV accused me of being a dirty whore(when in actuality he slept around) and the person who gave me HSV2 broke up with me(when he was in the midst of an outbreak, rather than be honest about his status). I have had guys tell me that I was too much of a risk to be in a relationship with but I was good enough for a one night stand.
- Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD/STI affected your partner?
I am currently single. I tell all potential partners before engaging in sex(with clothes on).
- Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD/STI whom you did not tell you had an STD/STI?
No, after going through what I went through, I made the decision to always be upfront and honest with potential partners before engaging in a sexual relationship.
- How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD/STI?
I have changed a lot. I have always been a caring and giving person but I found that I have even more empathy for others and am always willing to go the extra mile for someone after my diagnosis. I don’t want anyone in my life to ever feel that they can’t tell me something or that I won’t try to understand what they may be going through.
- 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 with this project because I really appreciate what you are doing for the world. I also needed to have the courage to talk about this in a larger conversation. Thank you.