Tips for Talking About STIs

In the world today, the risk of getting an STI comes hand in hand with sexual activity.  It can be very difficult to tell current or past sexual partners that you have an STI, especially if it is one that cannot be gotten rid of with treatment.

Many people worry that they will lose an important support system when they tell their intimate partners that they have an STI. It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous, embarrassed, or even fearful of your partner’s reaction. There is no right or wrong way to have this conversation, but it is a very important conversation to have.

Talking about an STI is a process, and it may take more than one conversation. It’s possible that your spouse or partner’s reactions to learning you have an STI may change as time goes by.

Tips for talking about STIs:

  • Have your conversations in a safe and secure place. Choose a space that provides that is comfortable, familiar, and private.
  • Tell your partner that you have some important news to share.
  • Be prepared to talk about your diagnosis in a clear way and provide basic information about what it means for both you and them.
  • Do not try to talk about your diagnosis if you do not have a clear sense about what it means.
  • It may be helpful to have some information, (printed material or websites) on hand to help with any questions your partner may have.
  • Be prepared to explain that while condoms protect against many STIs (like HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, trichomoniasis), some STIs can passed even if a condom is used (like syphilis, herpes, HPV, crabs, scabies)
  • Give your partner information about testing and treatment options.

Adapted from