A woman has gone viral on social media for her continuous efforts to raise awareness of the herpes virus and reduce stigma around having sexually transmitted infections
Image: TIKTOK @SUZBUB)
When it comes to the subject of STIs and STDs, most people get rather embarrassed or feel ashamed and don’t really want to talk about them.
But one woman is on a mission to change that.
Suzanna Brusikiewicz was diagnosed with herpes (HSV-2) two years ago and at the time she was devastated by the news and felt so alone.
However, she has since decided not to let the diagnosis impact her life and stop her from dating.
Instead, she now is working to educate others on how common the virus actually is and reduce the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections.
Suzanna, from Canada, does this through social media, talking openly about herpes to all who will listen in the hopes of educating people and empowering others who have it.
She even has included her diagnosis in her Tinder bio, but TikTok is where she is doing most of the work.
Most of her videos mention herpes, which has meant she has faced trolling and cruel comments from people online, with some branding her an “attention seeker” for discussing the topic so often and others calling her “nasty” or “dirty” for having the virus.
Suzanna admits the comments get to her at times, but she’s motivated to keep going by the hundreds of positive and supportive messages she also receives.
In one clip, she explains why she talks about herpes so much, saying: “Almost two years ago I was diagnosed with herpes.
“I suspect I got it from a partner that was cheating and lying, but because it can lay dormant for years it can be hard to know for sure.
“When I first found out I fell into a deep depression and thought my life was over. I felt completely alone before I told anyone.
“But as I started to open up to friends, medical professionals, my therapist, I quickly realised it was extremely common and not the big deal I thought it was.”
She continues: “The majority of the population carries HSV1 and 2 and HSV1 accounts for a huge percentage of genital herpes. We stigmatise one and not the other simply because of where it appears.
“75-90 per cent of people don’t realise they have herpes because many might never show symptoms or only mild ones.
“Herpes barely affects people who have it in physical terms but the stigma does the most damage, that’s why I speak out about it. Because I’m not letting anyone lose their worth, confidence, love or literal life to pointless stigma.”
Many responded to thank her for sharing, with one person writing: “Thank you for raising awareness. I had my first break out a little under two years ago.”
Another replied: “Proud of you being so brave to share it openly!!”
A third commented: “I was assaulted and diagnosed at 16. It’s been a massive source of anxiety every day since. Great to see this being normalised.”
Someone else added: “Great positive message you’re putting out there for people that feel shame about this. Keep it up.”
More information about herpes can be found on the NHS website here.
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