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Herpes led me to my passions

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Rarely do you hear someone say "Herpes made me realize my life-calling". As a 19 year old college student, I was diagnosed with genital HSV 1 three months ago. I have had two boys perform oral sex on me, one of which is the boy I lost my virginity to. I had my primary outbreak nearly two weeks after I lost my virginity - great introduction to sex, right? I won't lie, I always thought girls like me were immune to sexually transmitted infections, partly blaming the abysmal sexual education I received growing up and the overall fact that I (shamefully) thought STI's only happened to promiscuous people. Little did I know, I would be joining the infamous H-club.


While I have had oral sex a few times, the way in which I caught HSV 1, I have only had sexual intercourse once in my life. Days after I lost my virginity, I was incredibly sore, much to what I expected. It hurt when I urinated and it was difficult to sit without feeling uncomfortable. I had been suffering from a 102 degree fever, night sweats, fatigue, and an absolutely horrible cough. Two weeks went by and the pain in my genitals became unbearable. I also noticed a tiny spot that looked like a canker sore, in which like any self-respecting millennial, I immediately went to google and started researching. The next day, I went to the walk-in university clinic on campus and that is when my journey with genital HSV 1 began.


I hadn't even been with the nurse practitioner for 10 minutes and she already knew I had herpes just by looking. She performed a culture to test which strand it was and to confirm that it was indeed herpes. However, she also said that I had the symptoms for mono (which I later tested positive for) and that sometimes the virus that causes mono forms lesions in the genital area for young women. Even though she told me mono potentially was causing the lesions, I knew deep down that I had herpes.


My world immediately came crashing down. As a future healthcare provider, I felt hypocritical. As a student, I felt uneducated (on the topic of herpes). Worst of all, as a female, I felt UNWORTHY and DIRTY. I felt that no one man would ever want me and I would live a lonely, depressing life. I let myself grieve for a couple weeks, but I knew I could not go on with a life like this. As a result, I poured myself into finding out as much information as I could about herpes, other STI's, STI stigmas, and even more broadly, women's reproductive health. And guess what? I found out that I LOVE learning about the female reproduction system. To the point that after I finish my undergrad and graduate school, I would like to specialize in women's health.


I by no means am proud of my herpes or am trying to make it sound as if it is insignificant. My herpes journey has not been easy - it has been full of tears, all-nighters ruminating through my thoughts, and trying to persuade myself that I am undeserving of a happy, fulfilling life; however, I have always believed that the world works in mysterious ways and, as cliche as it sounds, everything happens for a reason. Yes, herpes sucks and as a young girl who is in the prime of dating, it sucks even more, but I will not let herpes define me. And while I have yet had to tell any potential future partners about my status, I am optimistic that the right boy will love me for who I am, herpes and all. So to anyone else who has recently been diagnosed or has been diagnosed for years and is still suffering, I believe in you and support you. Rather than persuading yourself, "I am herpes", think of all the other wonderful qualities you possess that outshine such a small part of your life that herpes possesses: "I am beautiful", "I am intelligent", "I am compassionate". Bombard your brain with herpes information and educate yourself (DO NOT believe everything on the internet) because that is the first step to being able to educate others. And lastly, try to learn to love yourself again. You are just as worthy as any other person living on this planet even though you have herpes. Who knows, you may even be like me and find your life-calling of diagnosing and educating others on female reproductive health.


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  • 2 years later...

I'm a college student as well, 20, looking for someone around my age and gender (female) that can relate to what I'm going through. I feel like I'm alone. I have so many questions on whats to come, I don't know how I'll be able o balance a social life with this or even enjoy social outings like going to the club without feeling disgusting. I feel like I can't flirt, talk to guy, dance on guys and I just feel disgusted at myself when boys even try to pursue me. thinking "if only they knew".


I want to pursue law, that's my passion but I can't help but think I'll be that single, bitter, lonely, lawyer because of this disease

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  • mr_hopp changed the title to Herpes led me to my passions

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