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When you go to the doctor to figure out what’s wrong with you, generally you are hoping to feel relief, to find out that you’re perfectly fine or there’s just a minor problem with an easy fix.
Sometimes it’s not that simple, and what your doctor tells you could be difficult to handle. For example, some diagnoses have a stigma attached, like mental disorders and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Although one is psychological and the other is physical, both are not looked highly upon in our society, mostly from a lack of understanding.
Here are some tips for how to handle either diagnosis. My tips are through personal experience, talking to health care professionals and taking a human sexual behavior class. Although the advice is targeted toward STIs and mental disorders, this is not to suggest that these are the worst things to happen to you. However, you might encounter negative judgments from others because of these diagnoses, so it’s useful to know how to deal with any unwanted suffering because of society’s view of these diagnoses.
1) Find out as much information as you can about the STI you are diagnosed with from your doctor and from accurate websites and textbooks. Even people without STIs should have general knowledge about STIs. With more knowledge generally comes more understanding. For example, you can learn how to eliminate the STI or at least decrease symptoms and transmission.
2) If you have a lifelong STI, like herpes or HIV, it can be more difficult to cope with a diagnosis. However, in these cases it could be helpful to seek out support groups where you can meet people with the same STI. This way you can get advice from people who have experience and have emotional support from people who understand what you’re going through. Also, talk to a counselor or trusted family member or friend. Support is necessary in any form you choose.
3) Realize that having an STI is actually quite common. According to the CDC, around one out of six people ages 14 to 49 have genital herpes. Also, “HPV is so common that at least 50 percent of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives,” a CDC fact sheet stated.