It is about that time again ladies and gentlemen. Students have graduated high school and are heading to their post education destinations with angst and a sense of freedom. The collegiate experience for freshmen or upper-classmen provides an opportunity for more than education and a career option when they graduate.
Many students cannot wait to attend college so that they can have a social experience that they could not have at home. Some of the risks that are in the orientation for new students include safety with dating, sexual assault, co-ed dorm room relationships, and curfews.
While most colleges want their students to have healthy social exchanges, and they realize that partying for most of their students is expected, they have an interest in keeping graduate candidates sober and responsible.
In recent years, college campuses have increased the number of clinics and services that they provide to students who live on and off of campus. They have specific sections for health related issues, including alternative medicine such as massage therapy.
You May Also Like: The Rules Of Engagement
One topic that remains a health epidemic is sexually transmitted disease. As a mother with a child who is, a junior in high school, we have had the sex talk repeatedly, and elaborate explanations of the spiritual, soul, and physical impact of having sex, have been made transparently clear so that my daughter is equipped with both knowledge and wisdom in making proper decisions about who she connects herself with.
We have also made it very clear that she will not attend college until she has taken self-defense classes. She received boxing lessons at ten years old when she was being taunted by classmates.
Nationally Syndicated Faux Pau
On the Steve Harvey Morning Show about a month ago, the Strawberry letter was read by Shirley Strawberry. These letters are similar in concept to a Dear Abby, or other advice columns. The Strawberry Letter concept lead Steve Harvey to write his first book about relationships Think Like A Man, Act Like A Lady. The book was such as success that it became a box office giant this year (2012).
In the letter the woman was in distress over a relationship that may or may not have existed. As I remember it, the man was particularly uninterested in a relationship with this woman. He was in and out of the relationship when he felt like it, and said things to make her believe that the relationship was more than what it really was. I’m sure you have known at least one creep in your life like this!
Needless to say, when the letter reached the part about her contracting Herpes, Shirley Strawberry was openly rude to the woman, and essentially all the Steve Harvey Morning Show viewers who have a sexually transmitted disease. According to the below commercial, one in six people have a sexually transmitted disease.
Her response was disgust, and called the fact that she had Herpes “Nasty”. A friend, who has Herpes, contacted me. For some reason, I caught the show when this happened and gasped when I heard the reaction from the talk show host. As a business woman I thought, “I cannot believe that she just said that on the air.” Even if she really felt that way, by responding with such negativity, her audience will feel judged and heartbroken.
When the friend called to speak with me, she insisted that I interview her so that she could set the record straight saying that there is Life After Herpes. For the next few minutes we are going to talk about Herpes, and you can relate it to other viruses and autoimmune deficiencies so that you will understand how to live, date and maintain your health.
I am not a physician however I am a licensed massage therapist and have been trained to cover some of this information. My friend who is also a full supporter and frequent reader of my blog, is not a physician however she has lived with herpes for at least five years after receiving it from her best-friend (at the time) who had sex with her man.
Without further ado, here is Monique’s story:
Monique was diagnosed in 2004 with herpes, acquired through her ex-boyfriend who slept with her best-friend (at the time). Monique felt like she was having hemorrhoids. There was a burning sensation in her rectum area for about three days.
She tried preparation H which soothed the burning sensation but did not remove the growth. At the doctor’s visit, the doctor instructed her to sit down, and brought in a nurse for moral support. She told her that she was diagnosed with Herpes, and Monique requested additional tests.
The doctor did not recommend a blood test because it could come back as positive. Our bodies carry the strain of viruses like Herpes and Chicken Pox for example.
Monique took several tests to confirm that this was indeed a correct diagnosis, Herpes of the rectum. Monique learned that her vaginal secretions may have been left on the scrotum from her boyfriend, and passed on to her rectum.
She was then prescribed Valtrex during an outbreak which cost her $50 per pill and equaled $532 per outbreak. Some of the side effects of Valtrex that she experienced were nausea, clammy hands, feeling sick to her stomach and dizzy spells.
Soon she began to feel emotionally unwell. She became depressed behind her diagnosis knowing that she would be financially responsible for this medication for the rest of her life, and she was unsettled about the side effects which altered her quality of life.
In a twist of fate, a pharmacist shared with her that she may risk more outbreaks, but the truth is the outbreaks would last ten days whether she had the prescription filled or not.
She became really depressed eating unhealthy meals, crying often, and masturbated to try to ease the pain. She tried gospel music, scripture reading, increased church participation, fasting, marijuana, alcohol and partying but nothing removed that she was now going to have to find a life after herpes.
Monique was afraid to tell men that she was carrying this virus during sexual encounters. She would feel guilty and reveal the truth after. An old partner loss attraction and although they have maintained a close friendship, he vowed to not continue a sexual relationship. On a personal note, I remember this partner and that was hard for me to vicariously give up!
Monique was appalled by the Strawberry letter when Cheryl said, “Ewww, he gave you Herpes”, because she said that her reaction is the reason that people have who the virus or other diseases do not share this information with their partners. In all that Shirley could have said, she focused in on the Herpes and never really provided a solution to what the letter was seeking answers for.
The clowning on the Steve Harvey Morning Show lasted about ten minutes Monique remembers. Monique chose celibacy for two years after she came to grips with her diagnosis. After returning to the world of sexual encounters, she had sex with men who did not have herpes and did not pass the virus to them.
One of her lovers thanked her for her honesty and continued their sexual relationship for two years. He did not desire a long-term relationship with her, he only wanted sex.
Monique has some advice to offer you if you have just been diagnosed with Herpes:
- Watch what you eat- abstain from acidic foods; counteract it with water. Eat fruit, vegetables, salads and other healthy foods
- Monitor your stress level – stress is a good environment for an outbreak
- Chemical Imbalances activates herpes
- If you are pregnant, consider a c-section to avoid passing it to your child
- Abstinence during an outbreak can help to reduce the opportunity for your partner to get it
- Keep yourself and your clothing clean- choose your laundry detergent wisely
Did you know?
If you have genital herpes the virus can show up on your lip?
If you have sex with someone who has the same disease that you have for example Herpes, or AIDS your immune system will be under attack much worse than if you have sex with someone who does not have a disease?
Some Thoughtful Advice
Monique was devastated that she had acquired something that will impact her for the rest of her life. She is currently in a long-term relationship with someone who is accepting of her status, and desires to love and care for her. He has not been diagnosed with Herpes.
There are several important points that I must share in order to make sure that we are providing you with the best possible information. As a relationship mentor, I wrote this story because if one in six people are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease then it is clear to me that we must be sensitive about how we talk and treat people on the subject, without desensitizing ourselves to the fact that sexually transmitted diseases should not be accepted as a norm.
We have choices. Sex unless it is forced, is an act that we choose to engage in. Some people believe that it is not irresponsible to have one night stands or to express sexual freedom in a way that does not question their integrity. We do not want to filter through the opinions of the right to be sexually free here however we do want to encourage people to do two things:
- Be honest
- Be careful
In the earlier part of this article, I mentioned that if two people have sex and have the same disease, it will actually bring harm to them because the immune system will be under attack. In our natural minds, we would assume that if we have sex with someone and they have it, it will not hurt us.
Being honest has benefits. It can save your life, and protect the other person. In some states, they are actually charging people with murder who purposely conceal that they are HIV positive and do not tell their partner.
You May Also Like: The Problem With No Sex Before Marriage
On the other hand, whether you have a disease or not, I encourage you to have a courageous conversation with your partner. Check in! Make sure that you know their history.
I agree that it is not sexy to have that kind of conversation while you are wet, and in a passionate haze, however if you take more than three dates to give him/her the business, I am confident that you will be able to determine whether this person is worth your good-lovin’.
In this case, I agree with Steve Harvey’s ninety-day rule. In the Christian community, people are appalled that this would be advocated but I say this, it does not take forever to know if someone is the right person for you. You will know within ninety-days whether the person is the one.
After ninety-days I am not saying that you should have sex, but I do think that you should be having enough mature conversations that you know whether your relationship will take you, to the alter or to the bedroom.
“When people show you who they are, believe them.” – Maya Angelou
I cannot say it better than Maya did, which is why this is one of my favorite quotes. The truth is, I believe that people are looking for sex, and not love. They cry love and tell people how desperately they want to be paired with someone but honestly, if you pay attention to people, most people are too selfish to become one.
And, at the risk of pissing off professing Christians, there are many people who want to get married to feel religiously right, and not because it is the true desire of their heart.
In being careful, keep in mind that if you have herpes, and are honest others may not be. I encourage everyone to be careful in the choices that you make sexually. Relationships are the one thing we take to Heaven with us.
We were created to be related as I always say. We were not put her for us to be separate. This means, that in all the independent freedoms that are exercised, people often forget that forging healthy relationships especially in our love lives are essential to our success.
One other thing that may be less talked about is the assumption that no one will love you, or have sex with you because you have Herpes. If this were true one in six people would not have it. The truth is, there are many people willing to take the risk in order to fulfill their sexual needs of the moment.
There are many men in particular who will sleep with a woman even after she has revealed that she has Herpes, and for those who will not, they will often tell you.
Some will call you back, and others will not but if you are dealing with casual sexual encounters, there is no big difference between having a sexually transmitted disease and not. The caliber of people who engage is multiple sexual relationships at once are familiar with risk and in some situations will even use your disease as leverage to gain your trust, or to emotionally abuse you so that you feel unwanted and trapped.
Lastly, Monique acquired another dis-ease in her body. The Human Papilloma Virus also known as HPV. The doctor says that it was in an incubation period for two years prior to diagnosis, so there is no way to determine who gave it to her. Her HPV was in a heightened stage, and she learned that it causes cervical cancer, and penal cancer that shows up later in life.
HPV is not necessarily sexually transmitted so if you are in the heat of the moment, and decided not to have sex with your date with your clothes off, you are still at risk.
When you have a disease it takes down your defenses. You put your immune system at work unnecessarily. The powers that be are trying to implement an HPV vaccine to protect children from predators, and acquiring the disease through “dry humping.”
As I always say, we have one life to live, and we do get to choose how we live it. I want you to walk away from this article feeling more in touch with yourself, creating action steps for how you will value yourself and make decisions about dating and sexual intercourse.
In fact, I want you to remember that even if you choose to be honest, others may not be and it is always important to know your partner.
By the same token, this article is about living your Life after Herpes. If you have herpes, or you know someone who does, please allow them to read this article and allow them to know that they will struggle with their diagnosis, but they can overcome. Rather than feeling condemnation, choose to forgive yourself, be confident with your head held high, and carefully plan how to best take care of your health so that you can live your best life.
So many people complained about Shirley Strawberry’s reaction to the woman who submitted that Strawberry letter that she came on the air the next morning and offered an apology. Unfortunately for many, the damage has already been done.
Herpes is a virus that lives in your body. I know several people who have strong spiritual connections to the most high that have been delivered from sexually transmitted diseases. You are not excluded from this option. Remember you have choices. Faith is an option.
Although this is the season to buy our children their dorm room accessories and kiss them goodbye, we can also keep in mind that children as young as 10 years old are having regular sex without protection, and many youth acquire HIV before you realize that they are going through puberty.
There is another population of youth who are prostitutes because they have been abandoned and are homeless this is a separate population than children involved with child trafficking.
You May Also Like: Would You Marry Someone Who Has A Disease?
Some of the children who are faced with these unfortunate realities attend school with your children. They get up and go to school, until they can’t hide it anymore and then they drop out and hang out in the neighborhoods where your children play. I am devastated that in this country there are over one million homeless children, and I believe that we need to create better policies to help them and not police them.
On the other end of the spectrum to many of your surprise, is the fastest growing population of individuals being diagnosed with HIV, seniors. In each group, there are misconceptions that safety is a priority. I understand that it is hard to be single and even harder when you desire love and affection of someone special.
Remember I said this: There are benefits to waiting.
The reason people cannot keep their clothes on is because they have the understanding that sex is meant to fulfill their own sexual needs when in fact, entering into the bedroom is an act of service.
You are entering into an intimate connection that brings life, expresses love and is pleasing to the other person. When you take your eyes off of your own needs, and seek to fulfill the needs of the other, your needs will be met.
Casual sex is often a mask for the more desired relationship, monogamy but few will admit this fact. When you are selfless, you can access the parts of you who attract who you really want.
Thank you for reading.
Ressurrection Graves, relationship mentor is an author and speaker. She maintains a blog entitled, Love, Life and Relationships: Overcoming Emotional and Child Sexual Abuse at www.ressurrection.wordpress.com Ressurrection is accepting speaking engagements on subjects surrounding child sexual abuse grooming and prevention, sexual assault prevention and healing for college students, and healthy relationships.