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Telling Someone You Have a Sexually Transmitted Infection/Disease

By HERWriter Guide
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Sexually Transmitted Diseases related image Photo: Getty Images

EmpowHER often hears from readers who have been recently diagnosed with an STI/STD and fear they will be rejected by potential new partners from then on. “Should I even tell?,” they ask us. “How do I say it?”

The truth is that it’s not easy, but yes, a person needs to be told. While many infections like gonorrhea or chlamydia can be treated by medication and then cleared completely from the body, many others are there to stay. There is no current cure from some of the most common infections like HPV and herpes, as well as what many consider the most serious, HIV.

The first thing to consider is where you got the STD from, something that’s hard to know precisely. If it’s from a current partner, then ask him if he’s aware that he has a STI that he spread to you. If you have never had sexual contact before, then it’s highly likely your partner was the source. Since he may not have been aware, give him the benefit of the doubt but insist you both go to a clinic together. If he is unwilling to discuss the topic, ending the relationship is probably the best – and safest – choice. If he doesn’t care about your welfare, he’s not the man for you.

But since many women are carrying infections like HPV or herpes, how does the conversation go when dating a new partner (male or female)? The first date isn’t the time. You may never see the man or woman again. Nor is a phone call, email or one of those STD postcards you can send to someone as a notification. After several dates and when it’s obvious you may end up as a couple and trust has been formed (and before you have had any kind of sexual contact), it’s time for a face to face conversation. Keep it simple and honest. It might be the simplest - yet toughest talk you've had in a long time. It's a good idea to start by telling him that you have something important to say because you like and respect him. Then explain that you were infected with [insert infection here] and that you have taken all the steps to maintain your health ever since. Advise him that condoms are a must but that you’re aware the risk of infection is there. Educate him briefly on what infection you have.

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EmpowHER Guest

I think it's essential to tell your partner is you have HSV-2 or HIV, sure. HPV? Um, not sure about that one! The CDC even say that informing partners of a past HPV infection has shown to have little benefit as most people carry it. Virtually everyone who has HPV, regardless of strain will "clear" it. Whether that means it becoming dormant like VSV or it just clears like the common flu, we simply don't know. Regardless of what doctors tell you, HPV has many unknown characteristics. We still have a lot to learn.

August 24, 2012 - 4:04pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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