Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that affects about five per cent of all people in North America. There is a large misconception STDs only affect the sexually promiscuous, and because of this, many don't expect to contract the disease.
This is the story of an anonymous female first-year University of Calgary student who contracted the disease last summer. After what she called "a deep depression, for close to two months," she decided to put her experience to good use.
"I have learned to cope with herpes basically on my own, and with the support of a man who used to be involved in Calgary's old support group, which disintegrated a few years ago due to a lack of attendance," the anonymous student said. "Because I know how I felt when I got my diagnosis, I would like others who are diagnosed to have an outlet to go to for support and companionship."
The student is setting up an emotional support group for herpes-affected individuals. Her goals for the group include discussion forums, transmission of information and providing an open environment to meet or date other affected people. She also wants to spread the message that people who get STDs aren't always promiscuous.
"Herpes is not a joke and people need to realize how much their jokes about this virus hurt and affect those of us affected, who have done nothing to deserve the virus or the discrimination," the student said. "Anyone who shrugs off this article and thinks it won't happen to them, listen up, it can happen to you."
The University Health Clinic offers help to students affected by STDs. They have doctors and therapists willing to help with any STD-related problem, and they also have many articles and pamphlets with support information.
Also, the student health plan covers herpes medication.
"There's medication available to stop a [herpes breakout] when it happens," said the University Health Clinic's Dr. L. Torfason. "The university health plan covers 70 per cent of it."
Dr. Torfason added there is also a medication for continuous herpes breakouts available through the health plan.
There are also many websites, good resources for recently diagnosed people, including herpesalliance.com and genitalherpes.com.