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Home Forums Sex & Relationships How do you tell someone you have an STI?

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  • #120409
    teatea
    Moderator

    How do you tell someone you have an STI?

    I’ve not been in this situation before since every one of my STI checks has come back negative. But I was wondering what to do if that wasn’t the case? I’ve had friends who’ve contracted things like chlamydia and needed to tell people they were sexually active with so they could also get checked and treated. But none of this caused any embarrassment for anyone!

    How would you tell someone you were sexually active with that you had an STI? Would you want a new partner to let you know when their last STI check was?

    Online STI Testing | STI Testing

    #120415
    EarthMamaEarthMama
    Moderator

    @tea I’ve been thinking a little bit about this too, especially in causal sex situations where they may not be a huge level of comfort, familiarity or even trust involved. How do you go about asking casual partners if they have any STIs, or if they’ve been tested recently without sounding like a massive nerd 😛 I don’t know if it’s possible, and maybe that’s okay!

    #120419
    teatea
    Moderator

    @earthmama Good point about the casual sex partners actually, when I was having a lot more casual encounters than I have been recently, I wouldn’t really ask,,,,which is 100% not what you should do !!!!!!

    I think sounding like you respect each other’s bodies and health isn’t a bad thing at all !

    #120420
    EarthMamaEarthMama
    Moderator

    @tea It’s interesting isn’t it! We know what we’re ‘supposed’ to do, but somehow the actuality is often different. If only there was some way to asked without being so explicit and potentially awkward…

    #120430
    PurplePurple
    Moderator

    Great question! I have oral HSV-1 and tend to tell people that before engaging in oral sex, particularly because once I gave someone genital herpes (although I had no symptoms at the time – it’s so unfair how that can happen). It’s always a tricky one though. I think when you’re telling someone about an STI it’s important to be armed with all the facts about it i.e. how it’s transmitted, transmission rates, what you can do to lower transmission, if it’s curable/not curable. I think it’s just really important to know everything about it because once you know the facts, it’s easier to tell someone about it and people usually appreciate that you are knowledgable about what’s going on. Of course it’s important to just be confident when you tell someone too and not act like it’s a big deal or some huge secret either.

    #120431
    PurplePurple
    Moderator

    Sorry I should have said I gave someone genital HSV-1 in that post. My apologies – language really does matter and I think it’s important to use the same terminology when talking about the exact same thing regardless of its location on the body.

    #120432
    EarthMamaEarthMama
    Moderator

    Thank you for sharing @purple. I think that is such a good point about being armed with the facts before disclosing. Knowledge is power!

    #120433
    Nurse_NettieNurse_Nettie
    Keymaster

    Great topic! Talking about STIs can be hard & like @tea said, it helps to be armed with the facts! So I’ll post a few points here:

    1) It’s really important to tell past and current sexual partners when you’ve been diagnosed with some STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea & syphilis. The reason is because these STIs don’t always have symptoms, but it’s important that these people get tested & treated. The only way they might do that is if you tell them they could be at risk. These are all curable STIs. That means once your treatment is complete you can’t pass it on anymore & don’t need to tell future sexual partners.

    It’s great if you’re able to talk to your past/current sexual partners directly. But if you can’t for whatever reason, there are some great ways to do it anonymously. That way they have all the information they need to protect their health! Here are some sites they help you do this:
    letthemknow.org.au (general resource)
    bettertoknow.org.au (Aboriginal resources)
    thedramadownunder.info (gay & bisexual men resource)

    2) It’s less important to notify past partners & more important to notify future partners about infections like herpes. This is because there is no recommended screening test for herpes & no treatment necessary for most people. It’s more important to tell future partners so you know if & how you want to avoid passing it on. If the new partner already has the same type of herpes, there’s no issue. If they don’t think they have it, simple things like avoiding contact when you’re having symptoms & using condoms or dental dams can decrease the risk heaps.

    Unfortunately, there is so much bad info & stigma about herpes, you may need to be prepared to educate your partner about it as well. Herpes doesn’t need to be the end of a healthy sex life & I often refer people to this great article about dating after a genital herpes diagnosis! @tea had some really good tips as well!

    #120438
    PurplePurple
    Moderator

    Thank you @Nurse_Nettie for your valuable insights! Not trying to derail the conversation, but what are your thoughts on disclosing about having oral HSV-1 when dating? I would really like the opinion of a nurse regarding this. Thank you.

    #120439
    Nurse_NettieNurse_Nettie
    Keymaster

    @purple I really like your confidence & fact sharing when disclosing. Although it may feel awkward sometimes, being honest is the key to healthy sex & relationships.
    Did you know that HSV-1 affects 7 out of 10 people in Australia? That’s a lot a people! So much so that it’s more normal & common to have HSV-1 than not. HSV-1 or ‘cold sores is usually transmitted through social kissing with family & friends as well as sexually (through oral sex). Most people don’t have symptoms so may not know they have it.
    My tips on disclosing is to talk about it early in the relationship (that means before sex). Being confident will show it’s managable for your partner too.
    It’s ok to assume that your partner is more likely to have HSV-1 already. If not (or they have no symptoms), they’ll be at ongoing risk of HSV-1 from other people (kissing family & friends) & not just from you.
    Give your partner some time to absorb the info & if they’re not coping provide other options for support, like contacting the NSW Sexual Health Infolink & talking anonymously with a sexual health nurse.

    #120445
    PurplePurple
    Moderator

    Thank you @Nurse_Nettie I appreciate that. I do find when I tell people I get this whole “why are you telling me this because everyone has it” kind of response but I will continue to disclose to raise awareness! Thank you.

    #120447
    teatea
    Moderator

    @purple Oh my goodness thank you SO much for sharing your story!!!! Totally a good point about disclosing if you have an STI even if it’s asymptomatic!!!

    Do you get positive responses when you tell people?


    @nurse_nettie
    Thanks so much for the information! I always get the different HSV strains confused and how they can be cross transmitted!! Is there an easy way I can make this distinction?

    #120658
    PurplePurple
    Moderator

    Hi @tea thank you!!! I usually just explain what it is (i.e. I get HSV1/cold sores/oral herpes), explain that it can be transmitted via oral sex/kissing with or without symptoms (most people don’t know that HSV1 sheds – rare with medication but it still happens) and what can be done to reduce transmission. Have only had positive reactions and understanding. Have had a lot of responses like “I have that too but have never told anyone I’ve been dating” – a lot of people actually don’t tell people about it because they don’t know it can be sexually transmitted. I just say it with so much confidence and knowledge and I really do know everything there is to know about it, which I think is important with anything that can be transmitted sexually as explained before. It is what it is, sometimes when I have an outbreak I just want to hide my face from the world, but then I remember that almost 70% of people have it and I’m actually in the majority.

    #120678
    Nurse_NettieNurse_Nettie
    Keymaster

    You’re not alone @tea… many people get confused! Basically there are two types of herpes simplex, that is type-1 & type-2. They’re both really
    different, so knowing the type is important to understand what it may mean.

    HSV-1 or ‘cold sores’ is mainly transmitted by kissing (mouth to mouth) & oral sex (mouth to genitals or bum).
    HSV-2 or ‘genital herpes’ is mainly transmitted by genital to genital rubbing & vaginal or anal sex.
    The tricky bit is the word ‘genital’ as HSV-1 & HSV-2 may both affect this area of the body.

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