I contracted HPV from one of the first people I had sex with
We met in school and started fooling around soon after.
I was 16; she was 18. I brought her around the house. My mom didn’t like her from the beginning; she wasn’t a good person.
She introduced me to ecstasy and speed
And raves. And unprotected sex. She was a bad influence. I didn’t know better at the time. I know better now.
I thought we were dating but we weren’t. She was using me. And sleeping with other guys. I gave her rides and attention. She gave me drugs and sex. Not a terrible deal for a 16 year old.
We stopped dating for some reason
Either I snapped out of it or she stopped calling. Probably the latter.
Around that time I met my high school girlfriend. A real sweet girl from a good family. We had fun together and dated for several years.
We broke up because she moved away to university. I didn’t have my shit together so I stayed behind to go to community college.
That’s when I started showing symptoms of HPV
The human papillomavirus infection. Warts. Fuck.
There’s no way of finding out who I got them from but if I had to guess I’d say it was the first girl.
Nothing shatters your self esteem like having warts on your penis. Being a teenager is hard enough as it is. Dealing with this made it harder.
At first I was too ashamed to get help so I went online and looked up home remedies. Apparently apple cider vinegar cures everything. Hippies swear by this shit but it didn’t work on my warts.
Then I bought some over the counter wart remover at the drug store
The stuff you use on warts that you might find on your foot or hand. The applicator is much too big for genital warts but I tried it anyway. Didn’t work.
Then I went to doctors. Lots of them. I had stubborn warts so had to go in often for treatment. There are several options for treatment available, and I tried most of them.
The most common treatments are prescription creams (Aldara, Zyclara, and Condylox), freezing them with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy), or removing them with acid.
Other more aggressive treatments include laser removal, surgical removal, or removal using electric current (electrocautery).
So many doctors and so much misinformation
Because I traveled often between home, school, and summers abroad I went to many different doctors. I couldn’t believe how incompetent some doctors were.
Some were downright useless. I had doctors tell me that the warts would go away on their own when I’d had them for over a year. I had nurses and doctors misdiagnose me on several occasion.
One nurse had never used the cryogun before
It’s a badass device but I ain’t letting anyone near my junk with it unless they’ve practiced on a hundred bananas. This thing can leave some serious scarring.
I quite literally took matters into my own hands and used the cryogun on myself. She was impressed. And a bit ashamed.
Uneducated health care professionals
Yesterday a friend of mine was told by a general practitioner that there are no tests currently available to diagnose herpes. There are currently several FDA-approved, gG-based blood tests that can give accurate results for herpes.
This is not uncommon. I often came armed to my doctors appointments with questions about STIs and left without answers. I had more awkward conversations with doctors than I care to admit, and quite a few with a disapproving undertone. Not what I needed.
I realized that most doctors and nurses were simply under educated when it came to sexual health. They didn’t have the training or the experience to handle my inquiries. I started losing faith in our health care system.
Planned Parenthood and Health Clinics to the rescue
It wasn’t until I started frequenting sexual health clinics that I started receiving better care.
Clinics like Planned Parenthood, the SF City Clinic, and other local clinics in your community simply have more experience dealing with STIs. It’s their sole purpose. It’s what they do day in and day out.
Their main goal is to improve the sexual health of the community. Clinics vary on what they offer but most have STI exams and treatment, pregnancy tests, vaccinations, medication, counseling and education, emergency contraception, free condoms, and referrals for other services.
I finally received answers to all my questions. Conversations were finally judgement free and no longer awkward. I received prompt and friendly treatment. The warts finally went and havent come back in over 12 years. I still look forward to my semi annual checkups.
Get checked out
Look up your local sexual health clinic and find out their hours. Smaller communities might not have one but your nearest city should. Most have drop in hours and don’t require an appointment or insurance.
Run a google search for sexual health clinics near you and find out which services they provide before you go in. Or just go in, they’ll be able to help you or point you in the right direction.
Shaun Galanos is the The Love Drive. He lives and writes in Montreal.