Today the internet exploded with the news that R&B singer Usher was sued by a woman who alleged that she contracted herpes from him. Shortly after the news broke social media was filled with jokes mocking Usher. What many ignored is the fact that herpes is a very common infection. One in six U.S. citizens has genital herpes. Herpes can be transmitted through touching, kissing, and sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It can be passed from one
partner to another and from one part of the body to another. Brief skin-to-skin contact is all that’s needed to pass the
So why is it that news of a celebrity having a common STI immediately led to ridicule and shaming? There is still a lot of stigma around STIs especially herpes since there isn’t a cure for it. People are often nervous to disclose their STIs because of the possible backlash. Those with STIs are often labeled “dirty” making it difficult for conversation and progress.
Today’s media frenzy surrounding Usher is a prime example of how people with STIs are stigmatized and demonized.
Someone asked me what’s the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done, and all I could think of is the time I went out clubbing with friends; we were really smashed and trying to convince the DJ to play my theme song and it was taking forever so they went to the bathroom leaving me with just their very shy mutual friend who I barely knew when all of a sudden the song comes on, so this poor guy had to endure drunk me dancing and flawlessly mouthing all the lyrics to Pop Ya Collar at everyone nearby while awkwardly holding my drink and looking like he had no clue what the hell was going on. It was truly my shining moment.