International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award


Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Community Development and Planning (CDP)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Ellen Foley

Second Reader

Laurie Ross


The stigma associated with genital herpes (HSV) often leads those living with this sexually transmitted infection (STI) to conceal their status to others in order to avoid possible negative social repercussions. I interviewed eighteen individuals living with HSV and surveyed 354 more in order to understand the impact that sex and STI shaming has on an individual’s life. The data from both the surveys and the interviews indicate that the shame perpetuated in both school and clinical settings augments the emotional devastation experienced following a diagnosis. In order to change the paradigm that only individuals who violate societal norms contract STIs, sexual education and medical diagnosis processes need to be revamped. Honest communication regarding sexual health and STI status is critical in order to decrease the stigma associated with one of the most common STIs.



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