Why there is a stigma attached to having an STD and how to deal with it

The stigma attached to having an STD still exists in our society and is one of the hardest things for people with HIV and herpes to have to deal with.

It can cause a lot of emotional distress and at its worst cause depression.  It can also create isolation because people feel they cannot talk about their situation.

We asked counsellor Frankie Hall her views about the stigma and she said that there is a stigma attached to having an STD, and it can be at its worst for people in their late 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.  For this age group it is assumed “that if you have a sexually transmitted disease you caught it by by sleeping around.

“The older generation and some maybe religious people of any age regard sleeping around as promiscuous.”

She says that while mainstream culture may have eased up a bit in its view of having many partners, values are slow to shift.

As well, education plays a role. “I don’t think some people are very educated into how STDs can be caught and you’ll always have groups in society who like to be ‘holier than thou’ i.e. ‘levelling’.  This means they will judge a person, or put a person down for any reason just to make themselves feel better.  So I think there will always be a stigma attached to STDs by certain groups.

“Personally, I would give counselling to someone who struggled with feeling of rejection/stigma – they would need to work on increasing their own self-esteem and be themselves and forget and ignore what any one else thought.”

A website like datepositive.net is a powerful thing for people with an STD, because it can help them cope with the stigma.  HIV dating and herpes dating websites offer connection, emotional support and a chance to move forward.