Ella Dawson is a 23-year-old living in Brooklyn, New York. Two years ago, she was a college student majoring in gender and sexuality studies and working as an advocate for better sex education when she was diagnosed with genital herpes.
Dawson was diagnosed with genital herpes in her junior year at Wesleyan University, just a few days before her 21st birthday.
As a safe sex advocate and avid condom user, Dawson was completely shocked by the diagnosis.
After learning she was positive, Dawson says she struggled with extreme feelings of isolation and guilt.
Calling her exes, however, was a surprisingly positive experience.
Sure, dating with genital herpes isn't super easy either, Dawson explained. But when is dating ever not complicated?
It wasn't until she actually opened up about her diagnosis through writing that Dawson says she truly made peace with it.
Now her goal is to start a positive, open conversation for others who are still struggling with their diagnosis.
"The most amazing thing that could happen is to make someone feel less terrified and alone."