Posts Tagged ‘sharing


letting someone know about an STI

Reader H. G. asks:

I think I might have an STD. What’s the etiquette on telling past partners? I know I should tell them, but how far back should I go?

Dear H.G.:

You are a good, responsible person. Just so you know. If more people were like you, less ashamed of their situation than determined to stop its evil spread, we would have fewer drug resistant strains of whateverness floating around and wreaking havoc. So I applaud you.

Now, for your plan of action.


Whoops. Image: Darren Robertson /

First and foremost, you need to make sure you actually have the STI (BTW, they changed the acronym from STD to STI, to make it less heinous or something; even VD has good PR these days, FYI). Go find a clinic and get tested. Planned Parenthood is usually good, if you can wade through the anti-choice protesters. Your GP is an even better choice. Man up (woman up, either way) and get to a doc. Otherwise you’ll be spreading useless panic, which is almost as bad as the STI. And with how much hypochondria this country has over sexually transmitted infections, you may be panicking needlessly, yourself. If you’re a lady, it could just be a yeast infection or a bacterial infection — both easily cured and relatively tame. Keep that in mind. Sometimes what we think are weeping sores are just irritated skin.

If it does turn out you’re infected with something, you’ve got a bit of work ahead of you, and some of it can be really hard. Suck it up. You’re doing this for the betterment of humanity. While you’re at the doc, ask as many questions as possible about what the STI could be, when you could have gotten it, how long it takes to gestate, how easy it is to infect others while wearing that condom I’m sure you were wearing, etc. Some STIs manifest themselves as soon as seven days later; some take six months or more. With some, you may not even ever have symptoms, and the partner you got it from probably didn’t either; all the more reason for you to tell them so they don’t spread it around.

Next up, make a list of all the people you have slept with, in a safer manner or otherwise, in the past six months. Include people you’ve had any kind of ¬†genital contact with, even if it wasn’t full on penetrative sex. ¬†(Yes, hand jobs and BJs count here, kiddos.) If you’ve only had one partner, you’ve got an easy road and he or she has a lot of ‘splaining to do. (Not really. Unless you were in what you thought was a committed relationship for longer than six months and he/she gave you something there’s no way you could have gotten from a toilet seat… then there’s lots of ‘splaining and, I am assuming, breaking up to be done.) If you’ve been with multiple partners, you’ve got to decide how you’re going to tell all of them. Yes, all of them.

STIs can be passed regardless of how in love you are with someone or how long the relationship is going to last. What I mean is, they come from long-term partners and one-night-stands alike. The length of your relationship with someone should dictate how you tell them. If it was a long-term bf/gf, call them up. It’s the right thing to do. They’re not going to be happy, but they should be grateful you told them (eventually). Tell them where you got tested or where you would recommend they go, to help them out. And maybe offer your moral support. Having an STI can make you feel like a leper, as I’m sure you already know. Your ex will probably be feeling the same way.

For shorter-term partnerships, a text may be sufficient. “Hey, sorry to tell you, but I was diagnosed with [name of STI here] and I think you should get tested; I’d recommend [name of clinic here].” Done.

If you’re not on speaking terms anymore, or are just too embarrassed to bring it up in person/text/phone calls, there’s a wonderful site called INspot where you can send your (former) partner an anonymous email telling them they should probably get tested. The site will also recommend nearby testing sites, which makes things easy. I do not recommend using this as an anonymous tool to scare your hated ex– that’s not just cruel; technically, it’s also harassment. Furthermore, your ex will probably guess it’s you, and then you’re in trouble. And that brings up another issue with using this site — if you’re the only person someone has slept with in a while, they’re going to know it’s you, and having them call you up and ask why you sent it anonymously could be even more awkward than the text message would have been in the first place. So use this site wisely, kiddos.

The good news is, once you know what you have (or if you have anything), you can probably get treated easily. In spite of all the hype, the majority of STIs are curable and probably won’t ruin your ability to have babies some day. Also, you’ve got your head in the right place to ask what you can do to stop the spread of disease, and again, I applaud you.

But I’ll applaud you even more if you promise to use condoms and be careful about who you sleep with and what you do with them from now on. And, you know, if you swear to be abstinent until you’re totally cured. Please.

post everyone else likes best

topics i’ve written about

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 195 other followers