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The Stigma of Herpes

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The Stigma of Herpes

Unread postby HealthForum » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:31 am

Whether you are recently diagnosed or have had it for some time, whether you are very young or very old, the stigma of herpes never stops affecting our sexual self esteem. Sure you can go a long time without having an outbreak, but as soon as it comes you feel like an outcast from society, that you are dirty and contaminated. Why? Because there is no cure.

Many people contract chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, but because there is a pill you can take to cure it, life goes on as if it did not happen. A minor delay in the course of your life that you can move on from and behave better in the future.

I have had HSV1 for six years. I contracted it from receiving oral sex as a teenager from someone who had a cold sore that was not visible on the inside of his lip. In school we were told that unprotected vaginal or anal sex led to STDs but that oral sex did not, and because of my actions (with the first person I had oral sex with), I must spend the rest of my life with the looming fact that I have herpes.

It affects us all. Do we tell our partners? After going through the emotionally draining experience of telling one, imagining telling other people is depressing. We worry about affecting others because we do not want to spread the disease and we also do not want to be found out of our secret. But apparently it is our duty to inform others about our affliction.

Here is my problem with the stigma. Anyone can get herpes, oral or genital. They are easily transferable and often males do not show symptoms and so they unknowingly pass it on. One in three North Americans have herpes. So what are we afraid of? Chances are that one in three people we sleep with have it, either knowingly or unknowingly. Our teachers, bosses, coworkers, friends, lovers, and strangers all talk to us daily also dealing with the same secret.

Do not feel ashamed. I have been there, crying thinking about how to tell the person you love that you have it, or wondering why you let yourself in the position to get it. I have lain awake at night during an outbreak angry at myself and disgusted that I have this pain. I have gone to class and work during an outbreak trying to walk normally and smile at people so they do not know. I carry the shame, I carry the guilt, I carry the self hate.

We are on this board because we have herpes or genital warts, or are afraid of it. We are together and almost half the people you know also have it. They don't know you have it so why would you know they have it? It's okay. It does NOT mean you are sexually promiscuous, or dirty, or easy, or not sexy. It does NOT mean you cannot have children or a happy, successful relationship. What it means is, you ended up in an unlucky situation where you contracted a disease. It's okay. I have too.

Do not let herpes stop you from living your life. Do not blame yourself for having it. It happened, but you need to emotionally move on from it. When the outbreak comes, deal with it, and take comfort knowing someone else you see that day or hear from also is dealing with it. Turn on the television and pick out one in three celebrities and think "they must have it too". Herpes does not discriminate. You are not a bad person for having it. You are a wonderful person who came on this board for help and to help others. Stay emotionally strong and take care of yourself. Hopefully someday they will find a cure, but until then know that there is a woman in Canada who knows your pain.

Feel free to private message me with any questions, or if you need to vent or share your story. Much love to you all, stay positive.

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