Dealing With Shaming Comments About Herpes

by Reid on April 11, 2017

Sad womanHow can you deal with hurtful, shaming comments around STIs?

With Reid Mihalko from and Cathy Vartuli from

Reid: Hate mail, hate mail, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when the haters come for you? Okay, so this really isn’t necessarily hate mail … 

Cathy: Well, calling us “fucking wackos” is a little bit unpleasant. 

Reid: Well, we’re a little bit wacky, so maybe they’re accurate. 

Cathy: Okay. 

Reid: However, we are not strangers here on YouTube to people with strong opinions and people who want to leave comments when we ask them, “Please leave comments.” So we got somebody. I’m not going to grace the … I’m not going to shame anybody by leaving their actual name here, although if you were to check out … Did we delete this comment or not?

Cathy: No. 

Reid: Good. I don’t like deleting hate mail, usually. I mean, actual hate speech, yes. “Fucking wackos” … I don’t think that’s hate speech. I kind of like the term “wacko.” Somebody left a comment on one of our herpes videos, so if you want to go find out who they are, you can find out by watching our herpes videos. This is their opinion, obviously:

“Having bumps on your crotch, having itches and sores, not a big deal? Herpes not a big deal? WOW! Creepy herpephiliacs.” I didn’t know that was a word, but good for you for using Latin. “Hey, look. My crotch looks like the surface of an alien planet. Isn’t that smashing? Go forth and spread your virus, my children. Fucking wackos!”

So, here. It’s all fun and games in the comments section until you get herpes, and then you have bumps and sores, if your one of those people who has breakouts like that, and then you have to deal with the fact that you might have an STD or an STI. I have herpes 1. That’s why I’ve tested positive for it. I’ve never had an outbreak that I know of, so obviously I’m one of those people who doesn’t suffer from frequent, really horrible outbreaks. Statistically speaking, most people will have two to three outbreaks in their lifetime. Most people don’t have horrible outbreaks, and so in those situations, herpes is basically a skin condition. It is a sexually transmitted disease. You should get tested and do the bloodwork, which is usually not free, to find out if you have herpes. A lot of people have it and they don’t know it because asymptomatic.

I’m not condoning the spread of your virus. What I am trying to normalize is the fact that there are people out there who have herpes and it is not the end of the world. They are not … how do they say with such love? … “My crotch looks like the surface of an alien planet.” We are not aliens. Your crotch is not a planet, although it is it’s own little universe, and it’s beautiful.

So I don’t think herpes is the end of the world. That’s my personal opinion, as an educator and as a slut. I sleep with people of people who have herpes, and there are things that you can do to mitigate the possible transmission of herpes. And so having this tone and approach to STIs and STDs I think is much healthier, and I understand that a lot of people have a lot of charge and emotion and strong opinions about certain things. This is America if you’re watching YouTube in America. Maybe you’re watching someplace else, but you’re entitled to your opinion. While I have my strong opinions, I would like to treat people as decently as I can, especially people who have culturally shaming situations going on around their genitals. That’s all. Haters gonna hate. 

Cathy: One thing to consider is, if the person didn’t feel ashamed or scared of STDs, STIs, if it was more normalized, like, yeah, it’s not something you necessarily want to have, and you definitely want to have consent with people, but if it wasn’t this horrible, horrible thing to have herpes, what would your life be like? What choices would you make that were different? I’ve worked with a lot of people that have herpes and I’ve worked with them around the shame of it and the fear that their contact, just touching another person, is bad for them. That’s such a horrible place to be. Herpes wasn’t even a disease, it wasn’t an STD or STI until the 1950s, when they found something that would help mitigate some of it and it became a big deal from a pharmaceutical point of view. So, it’s a skin condition, and it something that you want to know about and you want to have informed consent, but it’s not some … 

Reid: It’s not the end of the world. 

Cathy: Yeah. So, thanks so much for listening. I know this is a tough subject for a lot of people, and the more informed you are, the more power you have for yourself and your loved ones. Thank you. 

Reid: This is Reid Mihalko from 

Cathy: Cathy Vartuli from 

Reid: Your resident YouTube fucking wackos, signing off. Ciao, bella. Herpes forever!

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