During college, I worked as an assistant in the student health center, and I served as an executive board member of our peer health education group Student Advocates for Educating Women (SAFE Women for short). Since my campus was super small, and I was known for being an easy person to speak with, girls would often come up to me and ask: would you look at this?, and then try to show me some part of their body that I was not ready to see. Seriously, everywhere I went people would talk to me about sex- waiting for food, at the gym, at parties - even my professor said to a freshman “if you have a question about sex, ask Judi.” Despite my reputation, I would often refer people to websites or the health center as I acknowledge that I do not have all the answers.
Questions about HPV and Herpes especially perplexed me as there are so many questions- how many strands are there, how many people have it, what does it do to your body, and so forth. HPV and Herpes are super common, over 80% of all people in the US have been exposed to the virus. Some strands can cause warts (only about 1% of all infections) some strands can cause cervical cancer in women, some do nothing at all. I have friends from the mid teens to early forties who have one strand or another. I know a few people that have to get their warts removed every once in a while, or avoid dates when they are having a breakout. I remember when a friend of mine was diagnosed with the cervical cancer strand, and all the fear and worry and shame she had. With a HPV or Herpes diagnosis, many people go through a very lonely process of trying to figure out their options, the treatment, who may have given it to them- simply put, it really sucks getting a STI (sexually transmitted infection, because disease is really not accurate). Trying to wade through all the difficult information makes the process even worse.
That is why, thankfully, there is a great website , which talks about the experience of finding out the diagnosis all the way to treatment. Yoshi set up the website with tons of information- information, glossary, message boards, other STI info. This site is a great resource for youth who want specific answers to their questions in a fun and non judgmental manner. Check it out for yourself or a friend!