Her Instagram handle is @tatted_std_warrior, and she’s aptly named. Warrior, indeed! She’s the sword-wielding heroine-type who inspires onlookers and crusades to destroy the enemy. And who is the enemy, you ask? Stigma – and its time is up.

Jennelle Marie Pierce is the Executive Director of The STD Project, founder of The Herpes Activists Network (HANDS), and the spokesperson for Positive Singles. She’s a walking testament to the fact that being diagnosed with an STD/STI does not define a person, nor does it determine their fate. And although her missions are many, the one that stood out for me the most (my girlfriend takeaway) is this:

“Down with shame; Up with empathy.”

Valiant! If anyone reading this has fallen victim to shame, you’ll know the pain of it all too well. We’re prone to lighting the fire ourselves, but society freely hands out matches, while stockpiling fuel to add to our self-destructive flames. And regarding those among us who cast judgment? Enough. Done. Give it up.

Jenelle battles shame and stigma in many ways, but education is her greatest weapon. Knowledge is power, so I strongly encourage you to listen to this week’s interview on my podcast Girlfriend, We Need To Talk! to gain some power of your own.

Regardless of the circumstance, STD related or otherwise, no one among us deserves stigmatization, and all flourish in the face of empathy. Thank God there are people like Jenelle who defend the targeted and refuse to shy away from controversy. I, for one, would follow this warrior into battle any day.

You can listen to Jenelle’s interview on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or by clicking here.

Learn more:
The STD Project
Positive Singles
National Coalition for Sexual Health

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