A mom has claimed that God gave her genital herpes as a ‘wake-up call’ to turn her life around, sort her finances out, and learn to love herself again.
Alexandra Harbushka, 39, from Las Vegas, Nevada, was first diagnosed with herpes in 2011, when she caught it from someone she was dating.
Alexandra contracted the STI while she was living with her parents and struggling with drinking, bouts of binge-eating, and poor finances.
But according to the mom-of-one, who has both oral and genital herpes but mostly suffers from painful outbreaks around her privates, catching the disease changed everything.
Now, she is much more health-conscious and has ‘started looking after her body,’ limiting junk food and alcohol in a bid to decrease the number of outbreaks.
A mom has claimed that God gave her genital herpes as a ‘wake-up call’ to turn her life around, sort her finances out, and learn to love herself again
Alexandra Harbushka, 39, was first diagnosed with herpes in 2011, while she was living with her parents and struggling with drinking, binge-eating, and poor finances. She is seen recently
But according to the mom-of-one, catching the disease changed everything. Now, she is much more health-conscious and has ‘started looking after her body’
11 years on from her diagnosis, Alexandra has now accepted her health condition and she often posts TikTok videos about it, where she has gained more than 35,000 followers, in an attempt to give hope to others and end the stigma around the STI.
She also started the company LifeWithHerpes, where she shares helpful information for those suffering from the disease.
11 years on from her diagnosis, Alexandra has now accepted her health condition and she often posts TikTok videos about it, where she has gained more than 35,000 followers, in an attempt to give hope to others and end the stigma around the STI
She has also found love, marrying a man named Bill Gaylord, who is nothing but supportive, and the two have welcomed a son, named Clinton, together.
Alexandra now believes that getting herpes was a ‘blessing’ for her, since it forced her to ‘get her s**t together.’
‘I believe that God was giving me messages along the way that I wasn’t on my path. I wasn’t being who I was meant to be,’ she said in a recent TikTok video.
‘Finally, God gave me herpes so I would wake up, listen and make changes. I think God was showing me that my life wasn’t the one I was meant to be living, but he had to show me that through a physical manifestation.
‘I think there is a shock value to saying herpes is a blessing. We can look at things like a victim or we can look at them as a wake-up call.
‘If we look at it like these changes improved my life and shaped me into the person that I am now, then it’s a blessing.
‘Even though getting herpes is something nobody wants to go through, this was an important phase of my life.
‘Getting herpes was a blessing in my life because it allowed me to focus on who I am and learn to love myself and grow with confidence.’
She has also found love, marrying a man named Bill Gaylord, who is nothing but supportive, and the two have welcomed a son, named Clinton, together
Alexandra now believes that getting herpes was a ‘blessing’ for her, since it forced her to ‘get her s**t together’
Alexandra recalled receiving the ‘devastating, crushing, and suffocating’ news that she had the disease 11 years ago after she slept with a man she was dating, who wasn’t aware that he had the infection himself.
Alexandra explained: ‘I got it from somebody I was dating at the time. We decided to “go to the next level” and started sleeping together.
What is herpes – the STI that has no cure or treatment?
- Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) passed on through vaginal, anal and oral sex
- There’s no cure. Symptoms clear up by themselves, but the blisters can come back (known as an outbreak)
- Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body, however, will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area
- If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms, including: ultraviolet light – for example, from sunbathing or sunbeds, friction in your genital area – for example, from sex (lubricant may help) or tight clothing, smoking, and drinking alcohol
- Antiviral medications are the most effective medications for people infected with herpes. These can help to reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms but cannot cure the infection
- There are two different types of herpes – HSV-1, also known as oral herpes, is transmitted by mouth-to-mouth contact, but it can also be spread to the genitals through oral sex. HSV-2, on the other hand, is a sexually transmitted infection that causes genital herpes and can’t be spread to the mouth
- The World Health Organization reported that 3.7 billion people under the age of 50, or 67 per cent of the population, had HSV-1 in 2016, while HSV-2 affected an estimated 491 million (13 per cent) people aged 15–49 worldwide
- Sources: NHS and World Health Orgnanization
‘He said he’d been tested, but herpes testing isn’t included in the STI testing. So he was getting tested and had no idea that he had herpes.
‘I never thought I’d get herpes. I had this mindset of the activities or lifestyle that caused it, and I wasn’t living the lifestyle that I believed caused it.
‘I was being a responsible adult. So when this happened to me, it was absolutely devastating, crushing and suffocating.’
The mom-of-one said she started to believe that everything she ‘had worked towards had been worthless’ and that she was no longer ‘deserving of love.’
The news sent Alexandra into a two-year long ‘depressive’ state, before she decided to make some positive changes when she turned 30.
‘It took me two years before I came to terms with it. I was turning 30 and I thought, “I can’t stay like this, I need to figure this out,”‘ she recalled.
‘I felt like Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh. I cried everyday, I just couldn’t seem to get out of this fog.
‘I thought, “I have to change this.” I was living with my parents, I needed to fix my finances, I needed to change my lifestyle. I needed to work on the mindset of self-acceptance and self-confidence.’
Alexandra soon started to notice a relation between what she ate and her outbreaks.
‘If I don’t sleep well or eat nutritious foods, I get genital outbreaks,’ she shared. ‘I was binge-eating [when I was diagnosed with herpes], so I had to relearn how to eat.
‘I started going to yoga and started looking after my body so I could lessen the outbreaks of herpes.
‘Bad lifestyle habits make outbreaks more frequent and intense. A lower immune system can lead to outbreaks, and there are certain foods that can trigger outbreaks.
‘Chocolate, coffee beans, coconuts, peanuts and sugar can trigger them. I haven’t cut them out of my diet, but now I’m aware of what they do I limit it.
‘It’ll be like, “I had peanut butter every day this week and got an outbreak. That makes sense.”
‘When I was 28, I wouldn’t eat all day because I thought it would manage my weight. Then I’d binge eat in the evening.
‘It wasn’t even that I was bingeing on ice cream or anything I just struggled with food. I had a difficult relationship with it.
Alexandra (seen recently) recalled receiving the ‘devastating, crushing, and suffocating’ news that she had the disease 11 years ago after she slept with a man she was dating
Alexandra said she started to believe she was no longer ‘deserving of love’ and the news sent her into a two-year long ‘depressive’ state. She is seen recently with her husband and son
‘That’s how I thought I could keep a low weight, but doing that was hard on my body. Now I eat real food. The body craves food.’
Alexandra has dedicated her life to helping others through LifeWithHerpes, along with her TikTok account.
She added: ‘The goal of my TikTok is to raise awareness and remove stigma. There’s so many people who are in their “Eeyore phase” after being diagnosed.
‘I want people to [be] educated so they can practice safe sex. If somebody has herpes, I want them to know how to live with it and to not let it hold them back.
‘There’s still a lot of stigma. I understand that when the word “herpes” comes up, there’s this reaction of, “Why are you telling me this? I don’t want to know.”
‘There are some people who are very negative and will say stuff like, “You’re disgusting, you should have kept your legs closed.”
‘That, to me, shows that you don’t get it. I forgive people for not understanding. Whether you’re promiscuous or not, herpes doesn’t care. It’s about skin-to-skin contact.
‘The diagnosis hasn’t affected my friendship circle or family. They can see I come from a genuine place of wanting to support people. It’s not like I’m trying to be an exhibitionist.’
Although she is now happily married with a two-year old son, Alexandra initially found that her dating life completely changed after her prognosis.
She explained that she could no longer have ‘flings,’ and that telling potential partners about her condition helped her learn the true ‘intent of the person.’
‘Getting herpes completely changed how I dated. It made me realize that whoever I dated would truly love me for me, and it wouldn’t just be a fling,’ she explained.
‘When I disclosed that I had herpes, I would find out if the guy genuinely wanted to be with me.
Although she is now happily married with a two-year old son, Alexandra initially found that her dating life completely changed after her prognosis
She explained that she could no longer have ‘flings,’ and that telling potential partners about her condition helped her learn the true ‘intent of the person’
Alexandra has now dedicated her life to helping others through LifeWithHerpes, along with her TikTok account
‘Without herpes, you wouldn’t really know the intent of the person, I think it helped build my confidence.
‘Did rejections happen? Yeah, they did. Did they hurt? Yeah. But I didn’t always get rejected.
‘I realized that if somebody rejected me for having herpes, they weren’t a person I would want to be with.
‘It wasn’t a first-date conversation. But I would discuss it when we get to the point where we wanted to get intimate.
‘I made a decision to not let my herpes diagnosis hold me back from becoming the woman I wanted to be and that meant marrying the love of my life and becoming a mommy to a beautiful little boy.’
WebMD reported that a mother can infect their baby during delivery. But if a woman had genital herpes before getting pregnant, or if they are first infected early in pregnancy, the chance that their baby will be infected is very low – less than one per cent.
It was actually her husband, Bill, that pushed her to first start opening up about her herpes diagnosis online.
‘He knew that I struggled with it in the past but didn’t let it hold me back and believed that my story could help others,’ she continued.
‘We should never let anything hold us back from our full potential and that includes a microscopic herpes virus.’
In one video, Alexandra said: ‘Herpes can actually be a blessing. I know for me in my life, it was.
‘At the time I was diagnosed with herpes I was in debt, I was living with my parents, I was binge-eating, I was dating the wrong guys.
‘I was probably drinking too much alcohol. I had yeast infections. I had all these things going on – I had acne. I had really bad acne.
And it was actually her husband, Bill, that pushed her to first start opening up about her herpes diagnosis online. Alexandra explained: ‘He believed that my story could help others’
TikTok users are divided over Alexandra’s positive outlook on her diagnosis
‘I had a lot of stuff going on and getting herpes forced me to get my s**t together. I had to change my diet, I had to get rid of the toxic people in my life. I just made a lot of changes.
‘I personally believe that God put this in my life so that I could make better choices with my life and live the life that I want to live.’
TikTok users were divided over Alexandra’s positive outlook on her diagnosis.
One commenter wrote: ‘I chose to use my diagnosis to become an author, helping others overcome the stigma. [I now have a] better diet [and it] made me more empathetic, and [I date] with intention.’
Another commented: ‘Herpes made me a much more empathetic person. It made me check prejudices I didn’t even know I had and educate myself like the system failed to.’
‘It forced me to realize how much of a people pleaser I was,’ said someone else.
However, other viewers weren’t as impressed with the video and voiced their criticisms.
‘The itching is not a blessing,’ read another comment, while a different user wrote, ‘I don’t think an STD is a blessing in any way.’