If you peed in a cup recently, you don’t know your herpes status.
I’ve heard many, many stories from people who went to their doctor, asked for a herpes test, and were either discouraged or denied a herpes test because they weren’t showing symptoms.
As a result, there’s no real representation of people like me, who live with very common, incurable viruses like HPV or herpes.
There’s no real narrative script available to us in terms of how to live our lives now.
Doctors will actually commonly not test you for herpes.
There’s also, and this is really weird: chicken pox and shingles are in the herpes family of viruses.
Obviously they’re not stigmatized, and they’re not sexually transmitted, unless you’re just really inventive.
So, rewind: I’m twenty years old, I’m at the end of my junior year of college, I’m so looking forward to being a senior, I’ve just gotten this earth-shattering diagnosis, and I learn that two in three people in the world have herpes (at least the strain that I do; even more than that have other strains).
People with herpes, in my mind, were dishonest, irresponsible, promiscuous, unfaithful, and—depending on who you asked—I didn’t consider myself any of those things.
What I learned very quickly was that that really intense, deeply ingrained stereotype was the result of a very powerful social stigma that surrounds STDs like herpes in our society.