Episode 19: Taking Away the Power of Herpes Stigma
Cassie, 29 year old St. Louis resident, food service working, heterosexual HPV & HSV2 Positive female . . . . There, I think I covered it all in a half-assed sentence (lol) shares her personal experience living with HSV2 after being diagnosed at age 17.
IT, the Clown, is a perfect analogy for what stigma does to us. In IT, the clown was most powerful when the children were alone dealing with IT. Let's Replace the word IT with stigma. The stigma attacked the kids and caused physical harm UNTIL they began to talk to one another about it. When they realized they weren't alone, the stigma fought harder. The kids knew they had to hold strong and stick together. They went down there and kicked that stigma's ass! Next time you get down about herpes, just talk to someone about it. It wants us to feel alone because it draws power from that fear that comes from loneliness. The stigma loses it's power when we find ours in community (when we are ready). Let's kick this clown ass stigma's ass!!!
We talk about our experiences disclosing (and sometimes not), the false sense of security condoms bring people who think that the use alone protects them from stds. Cassie has had repeated successful disclosures and often made the decision for the other person not to move forward intimately because they don't fully recognize the risks. Oftentimes because we have an std, we feel an overwhelming sense of relief when we are accepted by someone for our condition. However, we KNOW our status and don't often think to have the other person recognize the risks involved or fully understand what their own status is.
The thing I found most interesting that Cassie shared with us is that in her experience, she's known women decide not to have children because of their herpes diagnosis in fear of the risks that can occur. Cassie has two healthy children she birthed vaginally and they have yet to experience any visible symptoms of HSV.
The takeaway here is to REALLY find a safe place to talk about it. By safe place I mean blogs, forums, online communitiies, close friends and relatives too.
I also said Fucking a LOT. Cassie and I really clicked and I felt comfortable enough to have the free flowing conversation we had. Apologies for the offenses.
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I am not a medical professional and please understand this content is experience based. If you have any concerns about your medical health, please seek guidance from a licensed medical professional.