With nearly one half of sexually active people and two thirds of young people under the age of 25 developing an
STD (ASHA, 2005), and with one quarter
of those living with HIV in L.A. County not knowing it, being able to talk to your partner about
your sexual health is more important than ever. It may seem overwhelming or scary to bring up the subject, but there are resources to help you. Many times this conversation brings couples closer together as they learn the facts vs. the myths about
HIV and STDs and learn compassion for each other. For instance, a partner can have
HIV or an STD and not know it for months or years and
pass it along to a new partner. Couples
who decide to talk about their sexual health can then have the opportunity to get tested, talk about risk, develop a prevention plan from that point on, and clarify their relationship. The following are helpful points to use when getting ready to tell your partner about your
HIV and/or STD status.
Why tell your partner(s)?
- They may be infected but not know it because they donít have any
- They can be tested to see if they are infected too.
- They can be given treatment and possibly life
saving medication, if needed.
- If they are infected but donít get treated and you have sex, you could get the STD back again. This can lead to health problems in the future.
- Even if you or your partner has HIV or an STD that canít be cured, there
are treatments to keep symptoms under control.
- If the tables were turned, wouldnít you want your partner to tell you?
How to tell your partner(s)?
Think about your partnerís possible reaction before you tell
them. Is it safe to tell them?
If it's safe, find a time in the next few days to speak with your partner.
Find a quiet, private place for discussion.
Tell your partner about your HIV and/or STD
status and what it means - and doesnít mean.
Help your partner understand that they may have
HIV or an STD and that they could have had it first, or you may have had it first. Sometimes, no one knows for sure
because the symptoms can be silent.
- Know that your partner is not bound to keep this secret. Your partner may need to talk with his/her friends or family about this.
- Refer your partner to get tested so you both
know your status. This is important so that you both
can get treated at the same time if you need to.
This way, you can prevent the spread of or
complications from HIV and STDs for both you and your partner.
- Encourage your partner to notify any other
partners they may have or have had in the past.
- Call the STD Hotline listed below for
help with talking to your partner(s).
- If you can't tell your partner in person, you
InSPOTLA to notify him/her using an e-card
(Internet postcard). The e-cards can be sent
anonymously, if you wish.
Links and Resources
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(general STD information)
American Social Health Association (general STD information and resources, with an emphasis on herpes and HPV)
- Call the toll-free National CDC STD Hotline at 1-800-227-8922
- Call the toll-free Los Angeles County STD Hotline
at 1-800-758-0880 for questions about STDs, referrals to free and low-cost testing in LA County,
and free condoms by mail (L.A. County residents only). Note: The STD Hotline is available 24 hours/day, 7 days a week via an automated system for clinics and to leave a message for condoms. If you want to speak to a health educator, please call Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.