Talking with Your Partner(s)
With nearly one half of sexually active people and two thirds of young people under the age of 25 developing an STD (ASHA 2005), being able to talk to your partner about what’s going on is skill worth learning. 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 STDs and learn compassion for each other. For instance, a partner can have an STD and not know it for months or years and pass it along to a new partner, throwing blame out of the question. Couples who decide to talk about STDs 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 STD.
Why tell your partner?
- They may be infected but not know it because they don’t have any symptoms.
- They can be tested to see if they are infected too.
- They can be given treatment, if needed.
- If they are infected but don’t 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 an STD that can’t be cured, there may be treatment to keep symptoms under control.
- If the tables were turned, wouldn’t you want your partner to tell you?
How to tell your partner?
- 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 STD and what it means - and doesn’t mean.
- Help your partner understand that they may have the STD, and that they could have had it first, or you may have had it first. Sometimes, no one knows for sure.
- Think about your partner’s reaction before you tell your partner. Is it safe to tell them?
- 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 or complications of the STD for both you and your partner.
- Call the STD Program Hotline listed below for help with talking to your partners.
- If you can't tell your partner in person, you can use 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)
- Planned Parenthood
- 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 (LA 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 9am-5pm.
For information on free and low cost STD testing and treatment services in Los Angeles County, call the STD Hotline at 1-800-758-0880 or visit our STD Testing & Services section.