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Herpes Activists Networking to Dismantle Stigma (HANDS) is a broad-based network of professional organizations and individual activists who share a commitment to advancing awareness, education, and acceptance of herpes in alignment with our membership overview, goals, and values. As is true with all advocacy, we are more impactful as a cohesive unit, always greater than the sum of our parts.
HANDS is an autonomous network comprised of individual members and member organizations, and HANDS membership does not imply endorsement of member’s work, policies, initiatives, messages, or services.
- Adrienne Rommel
- Alexandra Harbushka
- Amanda Dennison
- Ana Bohanes
- Ashana Greene
- Be Guerra
- Belize Spivey
- Carlee Murrell
- Carolyn Toney
- Christine Seyk
- Ciarra Covin
- Clarice Connolly – LT*
- Danielle Sinay
- Devin Elise Wilson
- Dr. Kelly Martin Schuh
- Erin Devost
- Heather Haskins
- Jenelle Marie Pierce – Founder
- Johana Dominguez
- KellyAnne Herman – LT*
- Kendra LaFrance
- Kiera Thomas
- Laureen HD
- Melissa King
- Rae Higgins
- Rukiat Ashawe
- Soraia Francisco
- Stephanie Boyd
- Stephi Batliner
- Terri Warren
- CHOICES. Memphis Center for Reproductive Health
- Healthy Teen Network
- Pink Tent
- The Herpes Hub
- The STI Project
*LT indicates Leadership Team members.
Please see below to find our members on social media and to learn more about our individual activists and member organizations!
Adrienne Rommel (she/her/hers)
As a 37-year-old woman, she struggled with her own Yoni & sexual health issues since she was a teenager. For her, it was the lack of sexual education, increased antibiotic use as a child, long-term birth control pill use, lack of awareness about STIs, bad diet, high-stress lifestyle, and unresolved emotional trauma, which all contributed to her own personal Yoni health issues.
She has been living with genital herpes for 16 years and has learned how to naturally suppress recurring outbreaks through nutrition, holistic wellness, and healing practices. She has experienced first-hand that it WORKS. She is passionate about educating others and ending the stigma about STIs by sharing her experience living with herpes.
With Adrienne’s knowledge, skills, and experience as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, she wants to help women who are struggling with their own personal Yoni and sexual health issues to heal their bodies and their Yonis from the inside out, just like she did! Find her on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
Alexandra Harbushka (she/her/hers)
Alexandra is an entrepreneur, a speaker, and is breaking the stigma when it comes to herpes.
Before branching out on her own, Alexandra was in corporate America for over a decade within the realm of real estate and mortgage. It was when she was the marketing director for the top mortgage company in the US that she learned the ins and outs of marketing, promotion, and just plain old hard work. Alexandra has created an online community for people living with herpes where she provides support, security, and educational materials.
Find Alexandra on Twitter.
Amanda Dennison (she/her/hers)
Amanda was diagnosed with herpes in 2015. She felt like a professional failure and hid her status from colleagues in the field, although she was open with friends, family, and partners. It was not until joining NCSD that Amanda went public through a blog post shared nationally.
Through her professional and personal work, Amanda aims to change how people think about herpes by talking about herpes. She hopes to create safe and supportive environments for those affected by STIs to talk openly and tackle stigma.
Find Amanda on Instagram and Twitter.
Ana Bohanes (she/her/hers)
A few years back, after ending a long relationship, Ana found herself dating, which resulted in a herpes diagnosis. She realized that she was not the only one confronting the herpes stigma, depression, and all those feelings that were not helping her move forward. At that point, the seed of AMPM Coach started to grow.
Ana believes in incorporating your whole being into the coaching process: mind, body, and spirit. She coaches her clients to release shame, create self-fulfillment, and provides them with tools to grow when an obstacle arises.
Find her videos & posts on Instagram/Facebook/YouTube.
Ashana Greene (She/Her/Hers)
Dealing with the reality of having herpes led her to fall into isolation, depression, and contemplation of suicide. Thankfully, though, everything has changed for the better. Her experience lead her toward focusing on self-healing, gaining support from family and friends, seeking therapy sessions, scheduling doctor visits, and delving into research about the virus.
As a result, Ashana created Health Awareness Movement to break the stigma, spread awareness, promote STI/STD Testing, educate others, and let them know that you don’t have to shame yourself or feel alone.
Find Ashana on Instagram.
Be Guerra (she/her/hers)
Being Latina, along with a religious upbringing, the topic of sex was taboo and never talked about in Be's home. Her social conditioning around STIs was that it only happened to 'certain types of people' and that it would never happen to her because she wasn't that 'type of person.' Be contracted herpes when she was 18 years old, in 2006, from someone that she was dating who knew but did not disclose to her that he had it. At that time, she was also grieving the loss of a loved one, so herpes was the last thing on her mind, but the repression of it left her angry and living in shame for years - affecting her self-image and self-worth, not only as a sexual being, but as a human being.
Be's vision for Tinder Lotus, along with the realization of her social conditioning and the truth about who she is is what helped her to let go of the anger and shame of living with herpes and create the passion that she has to help other women who have had traumatic experiences around sex.
Learn more about Be's work on Twitter and Instagram.
Belize Spivey (she/her/hers)
Belize contracted genital herpes 9 years ago during her sophomore year in college. She struggled with overcoming the stigma for a year and looked for an online support group that could help her accept her status. In the midst of her acceptance process, she supported other members and found a passion in assisting others overcoming the stigma of herpes.
Overcoming the Stigma helps African American women overcome the stigma of herpes through YouTube videos, life coaching sessions, a private support group, and biweekly video support group sessions.
Find Belize on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Carlee Murrell (she/her/hers)
She has become more in tune with her body. Her romantic relationships are stronger. She's studied up on nutrition, holistic healing, and stress relieving practices.
Now, Carlee works in Health & Wellness as a Personal Trainer. Keeping herself and her clients healthy and de-stressed is #1. Find Carlee on Instagram.
Carolyn Toney (she/her/hers)
Feeling that she was not being genuine to herself and her readers, she started speaking about how she dated while being positive for herpes, and she believes it was the best decision she ever made. In 2019, she told her remaining family members, friends, and social media followers.
In Carolyn's blog, she shares stories about her sexuality to engage and entertain and to give hope - when people read about all that she is able to do, while having herpes, it inspires them.
Recently, Carolyn was on the Whoreible Decisions Podcast (episode 128), where she discusses dating as a polyamorous, non-monogamous, and bi-sexual woman who openly tells her partners that she has herpes. Find Carolyn on her website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Christine Seyk (she/her/hers)
Christine is a mother of a United States Marine, holds a masters degree in business, and works in the tech industry as a database administrator. She travels frequently to participate in races, attends private social events with people who have herpes, and donates her time at support group meetings.
In her free time, Christine's training for the next race, donating time in virtual support groups, or working on her autobiography.
Follow Christine's work on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Ciarra Covin (she/her/hers)
She has used her personal experience and knowledge to work in various positions within the scope of advocacy in the fields of HIV, herpes and mental health. Ciarra is a writer, a speaker, and blogger.
Find Ciarra on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Clarice Connolly (she/her/hers) – LT*
Clarice believes that the courage it took to share her status with both those she loved and complete strangers allowed for closer and more intimate connections with the people she told. It broke the belief that this sort of intimacy was only available with loved ones or significant others. With each person she told, the weight of her diagnosis was reduced, and the shame that it held became lighter and lighter.
Now she shares her story without shame in hopes of creating deeper connections by living a transparent life. She believes that it invites others to openly share themselves. Finding her voice was the best thing she did. Allowing her to, openly and without regret, share herself with others, and to cultivate the power that comes from transparency, inclusion, and authenticity. Her mission is to help those who are struggling in life to feel supported and seen more for who they are than for their diagnosis.
Clarice has her own podcast about topics she wishes more people were talking about. These topics include emotional intelligence, herpes, boundary setting, addressing addiction, confrontation, overcoming labels, and much, much more. Having recently moved to Portland, she plans to build a herpes support group. Without the support of the people who helped her through her first year with herpes, Clarice said - and this can’t be emphasized enough - she doesn’t know where she would be now. Find Clarice on Facebook and Instagram.
Danielle Sinay (she/her/hers)
When Danielle’s not writing, she draws and designs as DRS Visuals, tutors and teaches with 826NYC, and runs the 826NYC Reading Series. She also serves on the 826NYC Board of Directors, 826NYC Volunteer Committee, and the Bard College Alumni/ae Board of Governors.
Follow her on Instagram & Twitter, and/or send pictures of your pet(s): daniellesinay@gmail.
Devin Elise Wilson (she/her/hers)
Devin has a Bachelor's in Communication from the University of Southern California, and a Master's in Arts Administration from Columbia University. She is dedicated to shattering the stigma and showing people how strong and resilient they really are.
Stay courageous XO.
Find Devin's work on Instagram.
Dr. Kelly Martin Schuh, D.C. (she/her/hers)
Inspired by her story, women from around the world are gathering to share their deepest, darkest secrets in order to experience the illumination of their personal truth and the gift of sacred self-love, peace, and passion for life.
Dr. Kelly volunteers as the Educational Outreach director for the nonprofit, Colorado H Friends. She earned a doctorate from Parker University in Dallas, TX, and holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Colorado. When she is not coaching or teaching, she is living the 'good life' in Boulder, CO, with her husband and daughter.
Find Dr. Kelly on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Or check out her book!
Erin Devost (she/her/hers)
The podcast shares Erin and her guests' personal experiences, trending news stories on sexual health, and Herp A Derp memes to break the stigma. The show also interviews those affected by herpes, ally perspectives, and community health activists who are already working to fight the stigma (such as HANDS members).
Upon her herpes diagnosis, Erin was inspired to find supportive resources and create a safe space in her community. As a proud member of HANDS, Erin is able to fulfill her inspiration and one of her ultimate goals in life: to make a difference by building confidence.
Listen, connect, and find Herp A Derp on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Heather Haskins (she/her/hers)
Heather found out she had HSV2 in April of 2015. She looked for herpes support groups in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area and was unable to find them. Eventually, she found herpes advocates on Instagram in 2017 and through Instagram, a support group. After meeting quite a few people from the DMV in this group and with some encouragement from other herpes advocates, she started HSV in the City.
HSV in the City is an inclusive support group hosting both female-identifying and mixed gender groups. Their goal is to provide a safe space for all to explore and heal without stigma.
Find Heather and the HSV in the City support group on Instagram.
Johana Dominguez (she/her/hers)
Her personal experience with herpes, as well as her journey to self-acceptance led her to become a life coach to help those struggling just like she was.
Johana's mission is to not only to help people thrive with herpes but also help stop the stigma linked to it.
Learn more about Johana's work on her website, Instagram and Facebook.
KellyAnne Herman (she/her/hers) – LT*
As a Self-Compassion Coach and advocate for smashing stigmas, KellyAnne now harnesses her craft as a healer, teacher, and oracle to serve others on their path to accepting and loving themselves. She has created a Vibrant Community on Patreon for supporting fellow sistxrs and sharing empowering, transformative content.
Additionally, she manages V for Vibrant on Youtube and Instagram where she shares resources for relieving suffering, aligning with your mission, and receiving guidance from spirit. This includes the video series Modern Magic for the Basic Witch - a free online ongoing course for expanding knowledge around new age mysticism - as well as Free Reading Friday, Weekend Webinars, and first access to e-courses, workshops, lectures, and more.
Kendra LaFrance (she/her/hers)
Kendra hosts a monthly support group that provides support and kinship to individuals with herpes. Within this space, she encourages and empowers individuals to live openly and freely, without fear of reproach because they carry the virus. Kendra is also the creator of a Facebook support group for women only “Herpes Happened - Now What? Move Forward, Live Freely, Be Compassionate.”
Kendra is a Child of God and mother of 3 beautiful girls. She’s active in her church community and volunteers at different community events, like sleeping out with the homeless as one of them. Kendra has a passion for people and their joy.
Kendra’s mission is to encourage and assist individuals with assessing their inner selves emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to cultivate an authentic and purposeful life. Find Kendra on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
Kiera Thomas (she/her/hers)
Kiera was diagnosed with HSV2 on October 15, 2011, and she remembers it like it was yesterday. She fought a silent battle with herself, and she rebelled, but she was really hiding and running from herself. As odd as it may seem, Kiera ran TO SEX. She thought it’d end her pain, but she just got hurt more and more. Kiera told a few of her partners about her diagnosis, and she had some horrible reactions. After those times, she was exposed on social media by two friends, and then she hit her breaking point.
In early 2018, Kiera was asked to do an interview about living with herpes for College Daze Media, and that was when she shared her status with the Instagram world. Since then, she has received good and bad reactions, but the best reactions came from people going through the exact same thing. As a result, Kiera is finally healing by helping other people heal, and she feels that she is strong because of the outpouring of love and understanding that she receives.
See what Kiera's up to on Instagram and on her blog.
Laureen HD (she/her/hers)
After contracting herpes herself, Laureen realized that the majority of online resources available to process a diagnosis were either too medical, too dramatic, too dismissive and most importantly, not relatable.
With funny and down to earth videos, Laureen uses her own experiences to tackle typical questions people with herpes battle, such as ‘How to tell someone I like that I have herpes?’, ‘Can dating apps be an option to meet partners?’ or ‘How to get back on my feet if I get rejected for having herpes?’ She also interviews other people who have had challenging sexual health experiences and invites them to share their story with viewers.
Laureen and her work have been featured in a few publications including Vice, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. See what she's up to on her Instagram and Twitter.
Melissa King, LMHC (she/her/hers)
Prior to entering private practice, Melissa provided psychotherapy to patients in the NYC Department of Health STD clinics, treating mental and emotional health issues associated with STI diagnoses, dating and relationship concerns, anxiety and depression, substance abuse, sexual assault, and sexuality and gender related concerns.
Melissa provides counseling for women, men, and non-binary individuals living in NY who are coping with a herpes diagnosis. She also offers a weekly therapy group for women diagnosed with herpes.
Learn more about Melissa by visiting her website and finding her on Twitter.
Rae Higgins (she/her/hers)
Rae created Positive Results, a supportive community for women living with HSV who cultivate acceptance and empowerment through their diagnosis.
Rae's dream is to help break the STIgma surrounding HSV and other sexually transmitted infections with the help of her wildly strong and incredibly inspiring girl gang!
Visit Rae's community on Instagram.
Rukiat Ashawe (she/her/hers)
Early 2018, Rukiat mustered the courage to submit an article titled, ‘I Have Herpes’ to LAPP The Brand for an online writing competition, and she won. The article detailed her experience with herpes when she first contracted it and how she dealt with herpes moving forward. The positive responses and support she received from others motivated her to continue to share her experiences, and it sparked a determination to break the STIgma.
Since then, Rukiat has continued to share her writing, raising awareness on sexual health and connecting with other like-minded people online, and offline, in order to break the STIgma and inform others.
Connect with Rukiat and her work on Instagram and Twitter.
Soraia Francisco (she/they)
Born in Portugal, they migrated to the United States with their family, graduated from Rutgers University as a first-generation college student, and then traveled to multiple U.S. cities as a two-term serving AmeriCorps member.
During Soraia’s service terms, they provided relief and long term-recovery for natural disaster survivors, college readiness tutoring for under-served students, and various community-oriented service projects. After their last service term, Soraia found a new home in the Pacific Northwest. There, they spent four years building relationships with and serving youth as a School Outreach Coordinator for Communities In Schools.
In 2016, they were diagnosed with stage three colorectal cancer and underwent treatment in Seattle. Soraia, cancer-free, resumed their graduate degree program in Human Sexuality Education, and they became invested in pursuing transformative sexology as a student and emerging professional in the human sexuality field. Find them on Instagram.
Stephanie Boyd (she/her/hers)
Three years ago she woke up thinking she had a spider bite, after going to the doctor the next day she was diagnosed with HSV2. Her brain began to spin with horrible thoughts, and she lived in denial for a while before realizing she was living her life with a lack of boundaries, searching for love in all the wrong places, and numbing out on food to fill a void inside.
Then she woke up and realized she wasn’t put on this earth to be mediocre, she was worthy of sharing her story, and she wanted to stand up for the stigma around sexual health. She began to dive deep into her healing, personal development, and managing her emotions.
Stephanie focuses on supporting women in: Releasing the guilt and stigma of their diagnosis, reclaiming their confidence in themselves and self love, stepping into their power in their sexual health and when disclosing with partners, and tapping into their own emotional intelligence and taking care of their emotions. Find Stephanie on her website, Facebook and Instagram.
Stephi Batliner (she/her/hers)
She is passionate about sexual health and wants to transform the negative image of herpes into an accepted conversation topic in our society. She has been living with genital herpes (HSV1) since April 2015 and has used her diagnosis as a starting point for advocacy.
In 2017, Stephi wrote her Master’s dissertation at Kingston University London: “A human-centred concept to tackle the stigma of the Herpes Simplex Virus”. Inspired by stigma research and the personal interviews she created 69 - The Story Collection. 69 - The Story Collection is an online collection of stories told by diverse people living with herpes who want to empower themselves in order to support others.
Learn more about Stephi’s work on Instagram and Twitter.
Terri Warren (she/her/hers)
OUR MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS
CHOICES' services are open to everyone. They offer adolescent reproductive health visits, adoption referrals, colposcopies, fertility assistance (including artificial inseminations), HIV testing and referrals, reproductive health services for people living with HIV/AIDS, birth control, Gardasil vaccinations, LGBTQ+ sexual health visits, transgender healthcare, first trimester surgical and medication abortions, midwifery care and births, training of medical students and advanced nurse practitioners, miscarriage management, and comprehensive pregnancy options counseling.
CHOICES envisions a world where sexual and reproductive healthcare is recognized as an essential human right.
Find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
Healthy Teen Network
Founded in 1979, Healthy Teen Network promotes better outcomes for adolescents and young adults by advancing social change, cultivating innovation, and strengthening youth-supporting professionals and organizations. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Healthy Teen Network serves as a leading national membership organization (501c3) for adolescent health professionals and organizations, promoting a unique and holistic perspective—or as Healthy Teen Network calls it, Youth 360°—to improve the health and well-being of young people.
Healthy Teen Network is uniquely able to impact large numbers of young people because of their holistic, collaborative approach rooted in research and enriched by their immediate links to a grassroots network of adolescent health professionals throughout the nation’s communities.
Find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.
The mission of The Herpes Hub is to empower men and women living with herpes to love themselves - to strip away the shame associated with a herpes diagnosis, pursue romantic relationships without hesitation, and live their best lives.
Herpes isn't the end to your love life - it's the beginning of a journey of self-discovery, forgiveness, honesty, and true intimacy like you've never experienced. We're in this together. You can also find The Herpes Hub on Instagram!
You don’t have to feel all-alone any more! In this sacred space, you will connect with other women who suffer from herpes. We will empower, educate, and inspire you to fulfill your dreams of love, partnership, and optimal health.
Alone, my story of inspiration can only go so far, but together, we can light up the world. Open your arms, your hearts and the possibilities. Join the conversation at Pink Tent forum for women supporting women with herpes…together we’re better.
The STI Project
Taking steps toward modern-day sexual health and prevention by advocating for conscientious and informed decisions, we post interviews with and the stories of those who have sexually transmitted infections or diseases, as well as a plethora of news and resources related to STIs and STDs.
Find The STI Project on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter.
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