April is STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) Awareness Month, as you might have guessed by the influx of awareness campaigns. These important public health crusades draw attention to STDs and STIs, but they also leave out a crucial population: The people who already have them.
One in five Americans have genital herpes. Think about that — in a room of 25 people, five of them will have herpes. And yet for most people, publicly declaring “I have an STI,” seems terrifying.
A group of STI-positive women are trying to change that. Writer and social media maven Ella Dawson, along with social work student Kayla Axelrod, freelance writer Britni de la Cretaz, and writer/activist Lachrista Greco started the hashtag #ShoutYourStatus to destigmatize STIs. Their goal is to promote a more open conversation about living with STIs.
“It’s important to take back the STI-shaming narrative, and instead, infuse it with facts and compassion,” Greco told Revelist.
Dawson was diagnosed with herpes in May 2013, and immediately told her family, close friends and sexual partners. Over the next few months, she shared her diagnosis with classmates as well. She found that people were more curious than judgmental, and were excited to talk with someone who openly shared their experience.
While she received positive responses, she still felt the effects of society’s STI stigma. She wrote on her blog about the shame she felt walking by public health posters with messages like, “Love: It’s more beautiful without a herpes outbreak.”
Here's a fun public health challenge: can you make STI PSA posters that make it easier to disclose, not harder? pic.twitter.com/QIRvBUbSaf
— cruella dawson (@brosandprose) March 6, 2016
SOUTH BEND, IND. — As college leaders deliberated whether to bring students back to campus, none led the charge for reopening more forcefully than the president of the University of Notre Dame.
The Rev. John I. Jenkins, the university’s president and a 66-year-old Catholic priest with degrees in philosophy and divinity, was among the first to invite students back for dorm life, intercollegiate sports and face-to-face classes, arguing in a New York Times op-ed in May that the college had a moral obligation to not be crippled by fear. He also seemed humble about the challenge: When he forgot social distancing rules as he posed for pictures with students returning to campus in August, he issued a public apology.
But all the humility in the world might not have spared Jenkins from the storm of protest he now faces over the latest news from South Bend: that he not only violated his own health rules — appearing without a mask at a White House reception last month for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Supreme Court nominee and former Notre Dame Law School professor — but also is infected with the coronavirus himself.
Students have petitioned for his resignation, angry over what they consider his hypocrisy as well as the rising tide of infections on campus. Others have reported him to a coronavirus hotline for violating his own mask mandate. The student newspaper called the affair “embarrassing” in an editorial. And the faculty senate stopped one vote short Tuesday night of considering a vote of no confidence in his leadership.
A sensible response:
Instead of trying to shame those who have contracted the virus, why not thank them for shouldering the burden of getting us one step closer to herd immunity and the end of this pandemic?
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) October 8, 2020