I'm 20 and have been with my partner for about two and a half years. We have a great relationship and are happy together. However, two years ago, when we first started sleeping together, I contracted genital herpes, even though we used condoms. I was a virgin before I slept with him so I knew it had come from him. I was angry and upset but he kept telling me he had tested clean at his last STI check and couldn't understand that he must have it. When we went to the GUM clinic (together) they confirmed that I had herpes but told me that they don't test for herpes unless there are symptoms present. Therefore when my boyfriend had his previous check-up (symptom free) he tested clean for everything they test for and then went on to sleep with me. My boyfriend was upset that I was blaming him and was tested again for everything they test for to prove to me he wasn't lying when he told me he was clean. He was negative for everything they tested him for....except like last time, they didn't test for Herpes and told him they didn't test for it unless there were symptoms, which there wasn't. He says he doesn't remember ever having symptoms hence why he's never had a physical check for it. I KNOW I didn't do anything wrong, and neither did my boyfriend, but I feel so bad about myself. I feel like I should have done something before we slept together, but I don't know what. I asked him to make sure he was clean: he did. We had no idea that they didn't do standard tests for herpes.
How do I stop feeling dirty and like I was irresponsible?
Originally written for The Guardian, condensed version can be seen there.
In 2008, over 5,000 UK women under the age of 20 had an abortion that was not their first. As was made clear by the alarmist headlines following the publication of those numbers, this is a big concern for the public.
This Spotlight on Scarleteen interview features the one and only Jacob! Also known as PenguinBoy on the message boards, Jacob is an engineering student living in Leeds, UK. A big influence on his identity, both at the site as well as in person, is his rejection of labels. (You’ll hear more about this soon!) At Scarleteen, Jacob puts his diverse background to use by offering an introspective take on topics such as sexual orientation and relationships, while also being one of the few male volunteers at the site.
Currently taking a break from his studies, Jacob is a Jack(ob)-of-all-trades who manages to fit volunteering into his busy schedule, which includes recently having worked in the neonatal ICU and maternity area of a hospital, regularly creating art work and graphic design commissions, teaching English to asylum seekers and refugees, writing poetry and hanging out with his beloved friends. (Of course, this is to be expected from someone who is such an open, welcoming friend himself– in person and on the boards!)
While Jacob is frank and transparent about many things, it is his unique perspective on the non-importance of labels that is extra special. He offers a truly refreshing take on an age-old dilemma faced by so many young people questioning their sexual orientation. Jacob’s article Living without Labels could be seen as icing on the cake in that it wraps up all those resources while adding a sprinkle of his personal experience. Human sexuality is so diverse. People are as different and unique as snowflakes, if even more so; no one label appropriately describes anyone. Many websites and resources may sponsor that message but few hit the nail on the head as well as Jacob does in his piece.
To use his own words:
But for any of you who have trouble with trying to work it out, who actually undergo stress to fathom what box you belong in or have an inkling that maybe you're over-squeezed to fit in a badly shaped one, I suggest to just think for a moment, that maybe you don’t need a box after all. Like I don’t have to ‘come-out’ and confess that something of myself is different to that which never needed to have been assumed in the first place.
Not long ago, Jacob did come out–- from behind his computer screen–- so we could get to know him better. Indeed, even without the convenience of labels, Jacob peals back the layers to reveal a lot of interesting and new information about himself. Here it is, “straight”-up! Please feel free to comment or ask Jacob any questions directly by leaving a message on this page or in the Staff Stuff area of the message boards.