Last week, three other STI+ women and I decided to start a hashtag campaign to destigmatize STIs. It is STI Awareness Month, after all.
Blogger and anti-stigma activist Ella Dawson, writer and activist Lachrista Greco, social work student Kayla Axelrod, and I decided to use the hashtag #ShoutYourStatus as a way for STI+ people to shatter stigma and not feel ashamed.
It was also a place for us to provide education about STIs — like the fact that two out of three people have the HSV-1 strand of the herpes virus (and half of all new HSV-1 infections are genital infections from oral-to-genital contact), or that the CDC's report that most sexually active men and women will contract HPV during their lifetime.
I’ve been writing about stigmatized topics on the Internet for almost 10 years, so it’s never a surprise to me when I get pushback or face trolling or abuse for my opinions. I am a woman on the Internet, after all. Men love to tell me how stupid I am on a regular basis.
But what happened to me (and all of us, really) when we dared to be unashamed of our STI+ status was truly horrific and appalling.