Age at Contraction of HSV2: 20
The denial set in: "It's just a razor cut from shaving" or "That was some good sex!" I even read the symptoms of Herpes online but my initial thoughts were "I'm not a slut. Three partners! I'm Asian! This only happens to White or Black people!" I looked at those horrible pictures of rotty-looking vaginas, but mine didn't look even close to that. But there I was in my senior year at UNC-Charlotte, about to graduate and gripping on the Fretwell bathroom handles for what seemed like dear life as just urinating burned my first herpes outbreak. The horrible headache, my left leg jerking from electricity-like spasms, the loss of energy, hot/cold chills and of course the pain from trying to go through the process of urinating or defecating. I hated to drink or eat anything knowing it had to eventually come out.
Once my vagina blisters became unbearable, to the point where I couldn't walk normally without pain, I couldn't stay in denial. I needed help. Good ol' Beatties Ford Health Dept...safe and away from UNCC. I cried all the way to Concord to pick up my Valtrex prescription for fear of someone finding out. I dreaded taking my Valtrex anywhere, and I remember clenching onto the pills so hard that the blue dye would stain my hands. I was terrified that I might drop it and someone would see.
The statistics say 1 in 5 men have herpes. I say, I WISH I'd gotten with five men. I didnt lose my cherry until I was 18, had been in one 5 year relationship and another 1.5 year relationship by the time I was 20. I was young at 20, but not dumb--just uneducated about STDs. My Asian parents opted me out of Sex Ed class in middle school so I did a three week "busy" project while my classmates learned about the birds and the bees...and my parents, well, they forgot to follow up with their own education. It's a cultural thing, and later on I'd learn that the only education my mom got growing up was "be good." Well, I got that advice too, but who knew that encompassed STD education?
With 18 credit hours, the internship of my life, and two jobs which pretty much gave me full-time hours, life became hard to balance. I'd missed one final exam. I told only one friend at the time, but she could listen because she really didn't understand. The depression set in. Life was lonely, I felt like damaged goods and I pleaded in my own way for the guy to marry me...after all, who in the world would want a girl with herpes?
Hell, I'd probably have ran at the time if a guy told me he had herpes. Looking back now, I realize a lot. First of all, that it doesn't matter that I'm Asian or that I'd only been with three people after losing my virginity or that I was a goody-goody. I didn't choose this disease, and herpes doesn't know how to discriminate. YOU have to learn to protect yourself, and YOU have to be the one to be responsible for your body. Your partners won't do it for you. My partner knew he had herpes but he didn't tell me. YOU have to be responsible and ask for the herpes blood test because you might be one of the many who have it but don't know.
UNC-Charlotte 4 Year Bachelors Degree: $20,000
Valtrex and Lidocaine Rx: $340
Herpes for life: Priceless
To look at me, you wouldn't know I have an STD. But how does someone "look?" There is no "type" to STDs. You can't tell by looks or behavior, the style of clothes, what their interests are -- STDs don't discriminate. I was diagnosed with Herpes a year and a half ago -- it was, quite frankly, devastating and life-altering. I'm a 53 year old RN educator in long-term care. I'm divorced after 25 years of marriage and have two children, ages 19 and 21. I was faithful for 31 years only to enter the dating world again with an STD. I thought, “Not only was I now alone, I would have to stay that way!”
Fortunately, with the support of the Herpes community (and there are so many more of us than I would ever have imagined) and mountains of information at my disposal, that perception has been radically changed and for good! Herpes, oral or genital, is a virus; not an indictment of someone's character. It would be wonderful to disprove myths about HSV and encourage acceptance. Having herpes doesn't ruin your life or your chances for a loving, physical relationship. What I want to impress upon everyone is to be wary of the "he/she doesn't seem like they'd have it" mentality.
Being tested for STDs should be part of everyone's routine physicals and after a sexual relationship ends (BEFORE starting a new one!) It's being responsible and accountable for not only your own sexual health, but for that of any future partners as well. I believe that you should always disclose any STDs you might have to a potential partner -- it's only fair for that person to be able to make a rational, well-considered decision for themselves. The use of protection isn't designed to "cramp your style:" it could literally save your life.
I would just like to make clear, COLD SORES ARE HERPES. I am 20 years old, and I was just diagnosed with type 1 Genital Herpes 3 months ago (January 2010). I was with the same man for 2 years, he was my first everything, took my virginity, and I thought everything was perfect…Until he had a cold sore on his lip. He performed oral sex on me with that cold sore…and transmitted the herpes virus from HIS LIPS to MY GENITALS. On top of it all, he dumped me, saying that he felt “uncomfortable making love to me now.”
I was devastated. What would people think of me? What guy would want me, I’m damaged goods!
I am still coming to terms with my diagnoses, but with a lot of research, I have come to realize that the Herpes virus truly is NOT that bad. Type 1 Genital Herpes causes less than 1 outbreak per year and is only 2-4% likely to be transmitted by sex. Type 2 is a little higher, but type 1 or 2 Herpes virus is not a dirty, filthy thing that society has made it out to be. It is a skin condition that I have to deal with periodically and not something only promiscuous people get-I have only had sex with ONE person…and I have it. Life goes on…and it does get better, promise.
I'm white, I have a college degree, a successful career, a mortgage, good credit, I volunteer hundreds of hours annually to non-profit charities… and I have both Herpes and HPV. Bet you didn't see that one coming! We all know the stereotypes about people with STDs: minorities, uneducated, blue-collar, dirty, poor, strippers, prostitutes. None of those characteristics apply to me or to the majority of people I have met who have STDs.
About 12 years ago, I was 17 and a junior in high school. It was only a few months after I lost my virginity when I was diagnosed with HPV. I broke the news to my mom that I had started having sex, and in the same conversation, admitted to her that I had already caught an STD. I watched as her facial expression went from shock to anger, then fear and worry. Luckily for me, I suppose, the fear and worry won out. She helped me to get more information, medical treatment, and gave me the support I needed during that difficult time. Back then, having HPV seemed like the end of the world to me. I was convinced that I would never find someone who could love me and accept me for having this horrible STD. It took a year or two, but I finally got over my HPV diagnosis, and felt like my life would turn out just fine. Aside from the occasional abnormal PAP Smear, my life really wasn't affected by having HPV, and I almost forgot that I had it.
Then 2 years ago I was diagnosed with Herpes and felt convinced again that I would never find someone who would love me despite my STDs. I had just gotten out of a relationship with a man who admitted to me that he had Herpes, but said it was only contagious if you have sex during an outbreak. He claimed that he had been with a woman for over 7 years and she never contracted it. Obviously that isn't the case because I developed symptoms 3 months after our breakup. My doctor confirmed my fears and the feelings of shame, guilt, depression, and hopelessness set in.
I didn't feel like I could go to mom with this news, so I joined this group to find support, and I absolutely found what I was looking for. Everyone was so accepting and NORMAL! At first it seems awful, life-changing, and like the worst thing that could ever happen. My diagnoses caused temporary disturbances in my life, but I'm over that now. Being a member really helped me to get over my new diagnosis and I realized that having HPV and Herpes wasn't the end of the world like I thought it would be.