Between Outbreaks and Heartbreaks: Accepting (Genital) Herpes

Friday, 06 May 2016 - 12:16:20 WIB
By : Jasmine | Category: Health & Beauty - 2886 hits
Yes, I have genital herpes and the outbreaks are painful. It’s also heartbreaking.

The first outbreak happened in February 2016. I admit I had been careless. I had sex with a guy who had slept with dozens of women (I’m number 28) and had multiple sexual partners. Oh, and he wasn’t a big fan of condoms.

Yes, reading, this, you can say that I voluntarily signed up for an STI. But at the time I didn’t think that I would contract an STI. And now I must bear the consequences for the rest of my life, because the virus stays. The virus remains in your body. It’s incurable, and you can infect someone else by kissing or having sexual encounters with them, basically anything involving exchanging bodily fluid.

You probably wonder who I am. Who are the guys I was sleeping with? Who infected me?

I am a 25-year-old Indonesian, currently studying for master’s degree in Europe. I came here in 2014, which is the year my mom told me not to “engage in free sex”. I even remember that moment: it was at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport right before my flight here. I listened to her in my first year. I wasn’t ready to find a new guy anyway; having just broken up with my ex.

But in the summer of 2015, Tinder came like a storm. Tempted by the idea of meeting different guys from a multitude of backgrounds and nationalities, I became an avid Tinder user. All of the men came with their interesting stories. They told me about how John Boehner, former US Speaker of the House, resigned, about how Greek crisis happened, even about cockroaches in Tel Aviv. I also shared Indonesian issues such as the Indonesian 1965 tragedy. The flood of information fascinated and aroused me, at the expense of my sexual health. I was too excited and didn’t think of the risks.

So how did it happen? Several days after a session with my “friend with benefits” at the time, I noticed a pain between my vagina and anus. Having no idea what it was, I took a picture to see what was going down there. Only one word to describe it: disgusting. There was vaginal fluid all over the place covering swollen red skin. It’s painful to pee and poo. The whole area was painful. I went to the doctor who told me I had contracted herpes. The doctor also said, I might experience recurring outbreaks. She gave me an antiviral drug, Valaciclovir and said that the outbreak would end in about a week.

Herpes is incurable and I can infect my partner even when there is no outbreak, though the possibility of infecting it is low when there is no outbreak. On my walk back home I cried. The guy who had possibly infected me hadn’t been supportive. I called to confide in my closest friend here for hours. I felt slutty. It’s bad enough that I won’t be able to find a future boyfriend back home because I’m not a virgin – now I have herpes too. Fuck!

Lying in bed in my room, I felt that I had failed my life. It took some time for me to fully research about genital herpes and to accept the virus in my body. I also read several internet articles on living with genital herpes; I thanked all the sexual health activists and professionals who wrote them and shared them on the internet. After somewhat accepting it, I called my BFF from my undergrad years and was able to joke about herpes.

“I’m a good girl – with genital herpes,” I told her. We shared a good laugh.

A week later, I found out from the lab test that I have Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV1) in my body. The HSV1 usually causes cold sores, but can also cause genital herpes, unlike HSV2, which only causes genital herpes. HSV1 is also more common and a lot of people in the world have the virus in their body without knowing it. That was the case with the guy who infected me. He didn’t experience any outbreaks, although he had sex with a girl with cold sores before me.

I felt a bit relieved. But the herpes is still there. Right now I’m really close to a very nice guy, but he refuses to even kiss me and to share drinks with me (though he later admitted that it was a silly thing to do: sharing a drink won’t make you infected, since virus can’t live without a host). It’s heartbreaking to be “rejected” because of genital herpes. I had expected this, since I read a blog post about a guy who was rejected multiple times by girls because he had herpes. Still, it doesn’t make me feel better.

Anyway, I have to live with this. I have to accept this, even though I may hate myself later. I also have to live with the outbreaks. The second outbreak had already happened three weeks after the first outbreak. I haven’t told my parents about my condition, but I imagine they will find out later, when I have the next outbreak after I come home.

I didn’t have a full understanding about all the STIs before. Heck, it’s probably because I skipped a lot of PE classes back in high school. For now, I can only pray that the vaccine will be out soon (for my future partner, so I won’t infect him). Or that the cure will be found for me and all the people who live with herpes.

Jasmine is a pseudonym taken by a 25 years old graduate student currently living in Europe. Hoping to go back to Jakarta as soon as possible, she's still unsure of what life will look like later there.

Got an opinion on this issue? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

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P | 08 May 2016 | 06:50:18 WIB
Don't be too worry about it sweety. I have herpes too. I'm sure it comes from my boyfriend who'd bang two girls before me. Herpes is a virus but it also happens because your low immune system. The virus there, and they will heal themselves too in a week or so. I had herpes around 2013 and it only come back once in 2014.

I know how painful the herpes is, but you know what's most painful? The doctor who have that judging look in their eye. Advise me to filter my partner and digging their past f*** buddy and also to wear a condom. Herpes is not always about sexual transmitted disease. But it can happens because of low immune system in our body. And that is what my 1 and only trusted-dermatology said to me which I believe.

So live happy, live healthy, keep your immune system in green state so the herpes virus won't come back. And you better deleted that Tinder too, cause I've done the same.
Jasmine | 08 May 2016 | 16:37:15 WIB
Hey P, thank you very much for your support! Thankfully my doctor here is a very sweet lady who does not judge me. (Ok, is the doctor with judging look an Indonesian? Looks like I need to find a non-judging doctor later lol)

I deleted Tinder, and that very nice guy is now my boyfriend <3

Live happy and live healthy for you too!
P | 08 May 2016 | 21:02:04 WIB
I am chinese Indonesian and that judging doctor also a chinese indonesian, female, 40s something. My current doctor now is Javanese. She writes some articles posted on Femina magazine latest edition, talking about herpes too. I love her so much!

It's quite difficult to find a good doctor here despite their knowledge and popularity, how they express their empathy towards their patient is my biggest concern.

I'm happy to hear that you have somebody on your side that accepts every flaws in you :)
eva | 04 October 2016 | 01:04:01 WIB
Hi, would you like to give me you email address? I want to know more about how you can manage this hard situation. Because lately I've been diagnosed with STD, and it makes me really sad. xx
Jasmine | 08 October 2016 | 05:33:01 WIB
Hi P,
Thank you very much for your information. I'm glad that there are doctors (in Indonesia...) who doesn't judge.

Hi Eva,
I've sent you an e-mail! Kindly check your inbox ;)
Haylee | 13 April 2018 | 05:45:32 WIB
I've been doing research about herpes and accidentally found this blog. My heart breaks after reading your story :(

It similar to me but i just never have sex with my man. He told me he got cold sores a.k.a HSV1 and i should stop worrying because it's not a big deal. However im still not ready to share the risk.

I appreciate that you've been honest with your good guy :) honesty is always the best policy :)

Btw, you could try home remedies such as oregano and olive oil. Idk, if it works or not but i think it's worth to try. All the resources i got says it can completely remove the virus.

Can I have your email address? I want to know if you try it and it works.

Thank you...

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