Stigma can't exist where there is open discussion and a safe space for understanding to develop. The thing about contracting an STI is that it is very rare that someone voluntarily acquires it. When it is acquired, the only way we have to process what it means for us is that now we're screwed because our sex-ed was 'wear condoms to avoid an STI'. Unfortunately we don't go beyond that level of education until the preventive measures have failed us. There should be more education on how to move forward in the event you are exposed to an STI. What do you do when someone discloses to you? What if you need to disclose your sex health status? Where are consistent facts? How do you find support?
Unfortunately all we have are people's experiences to assist with preparation, helping you manage life with an STI. Olivia shares with us her experience viewing herpes for what it really is. It's a virus! You know what else is a virus? A common cold. The herpes virus is just a tenant dwelling in the nerve endings around your mouth or at the base of the spine. Your common cold lives in your nose and throat. It's a cool tenant that resides in your body that lets you know when things aren't right in your life situation or body. (I have friends that don't even let me know when they see typos in my podcast descriptions) People will share with us that they have a cold and we don't go 'eww you're gross and have lots of partners you share breathing space with. Yet when we share that we have herpes and HIV, it's common for people to distance themselves permanently and assume we are dirty. Why isn't there a stigma for a common cold? This viral infection has no cure (sound familiar?).
Stigma can't exist in a space where there is truth and open communication about the situation. Stigma is tied to shame. The anti-stigma is truth. The truth of the inevitibility of contracting an STI, the truth that it is manageable, the truth that we all know someone living with one. Talking about it is the beginning of the anti-stigma. One day we can all #WhatStigma and laugh about it.
Olivia Richman, AKA GlamourPuss, M.D. is a 3rd year medical student informing us about STIs, what a vagina can look like, the female reproductive system and more! She also discusses sexual harassment, assault, consent, what's inside a rape kit and redefining masculinity. Stay tuned for upcoming seasons about empowered relationships, healthy living & a 'teen's' life on her YouTube Channel.
Link to video versions available on GlamourPuss, M.D.'s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/glamourpussmd
Olivia can also be found at her website: https://www.glamourpussmd.com/ as well as Instagram and Twitter @Glamourpussmd
***Disclaimer*** Olivia is NOT a physician/medical doctor and does not have her M.D. (yet). She chose this name because she intends to continue making informative YouTube videos and will attain her M.D. by 2019. She does not give medical advice. Please speak to your doctor if you have any questions regarding your reproductive health.
I'm on Social Media @HOnMyChest. Please continue to subscribe to, rate and review the show! It's helping many people find it sooner and get the support they're seeking.