It’s a conversation that not many people want to have on a first date – so when should you tell a potential partner that you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)? It’s a dilemma that’s increasingly common, as STI rates rise. So here are some suggestions for starting a safe relationship, when you have an STI.
1. Talk about sexual health in general
It can be much easier to broach the STI topic if you’re having a general conversation about your attitudes to sex, condom use, birth control and so on. For example, you might mention that you want to take precautions for both birth control and sexual health reasons.
2. Ask your partner first
Don’t forget that your potential partner may be in a similar situation, so why not ask them first if they have an STI, or whether they have had one in the past. Public Health England says there were 422,147 new STI reports in 2019 – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/713944/hpr2018_AA-STIs_v5.pdf. Being aware of this should make it easier to talk about your own STI status. Stress the health aspect – and that you care enough to act responsibly.
3. Know the answers
Your partner may well have questions, and it will be reassuring if you can answer them. So do your research in advance, and then you’ll be able to put their mind at rest. There’s no reason for them to disrespect you. After all, if they haven’t been tested recently, via one of the STI test London services www.checkurself.org.uk/plus, how do they know whether or not they have an STI? They don’t, so don’t allow yourself to be talked into having sex without protection.
4. Choose the time and place
You can have this conversation by phone which can feel a safer way to communicate if you’re worried about your partner’s reaction. As you’re the one starting to talk about having a safe relationship, you have the advantage of picking the time and place.
5. Don’t feel alone
There are lots of online support groups for people with STIs – and there are even dating sites for people who’d rather date someone who also has an STI. So don’t feel alone – congratulate yourself on getting tested and treated! And encourage your partner to do the same.