April is STI Awareness Month. Woo! Most of the messages we get about STIs are how awful and scary and to be avoided at all costs they are. These messages have the price of stigmatizing all of the awesome and sexy people who live with STIs. So, I would like to share with you this totally fabulous article, The Perks of Herpes, from The Hairpin.
The author shares her story of being a young woman with HSV-1. She writes about the STI scare tactics in her high school abstinence only sex ed class, how she acquired HSV-1, the widespread stigma against people with herpes, her honesty with all sexual partners, rejection, and how she came to stop caring about the ones who rejected her.
“Before herpes, I didn’t think about my body much. But the virus had jolted me into self-awareness. I ate better. I exercised more. I felt more fragile and powerful and worthy of careful handling than ever. Herpes, oddly, did not turn me into damaged goods. Instead, it became a filter for expendable men in my life….
In a world full of infinite partner choices, herpes had narrowed mine to the understanding, the open minded, the risk takers. I am now confined to partners who think my awesomeness eclipses my cellular flaw — so instead of killing my love life, herpes has weirdly deepened it.”