I recently came across a great video with celebrities talking about the stigma associated with mental illness and disease. Interesting how a few of the points made in the film can easily apply to herpes and the stigma it has in our culture. When you watch this film, try mentally substituting “herpes” or “sexual disease” in for when mental disease is mentioned. There are many parallels.

Here’s the video:


Now I can already hear a few dissenters: “But you don’t get brain disease from having sex. You don’t have a choice!” STDs are easily vilified because you have to actually have sex in order to get them. But in a way, isn’t vilifying STDs directly vilifying the act of sex? Yes, people who have herpes and other STDs make that one choice to have sex. But once that choice is made (which is a choice that many people make, STDs or not), then the chances of you getting an STD are a roll of the dice; just like getting brain disease is a roll of the dice.

Here are a few great points directly quoted from the video (I’ve taken liberties by switching to more herpes-related words “in quotes”):

  • The all-American “genitals” deserve better
  • There’s no stigma or discrimination against the heart, the liver, the kidney or the gall bladder, “but there is against genitals with an STD”
  • Yesterday, depression was kept in the dark, and bipolar disorder was your best friend’s mother’s problem. But the tide is turning. It’s cool to be out there. We’re comin’ out. Why is “sexual” disease the only disease you can get “shamed” for having?
  • The “genitals” are just as important as any other body part.
  • You’re not alone. It’s not your fault.
  • You’re as sick as your secrets.

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