The Healthy Bear On Letting Partners Know About STIs

Hey there Guys,

Today I wanted to talk about one of the more difficult topics of sexual health, notifying partners of potential exposure to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

As we all know sex is a team sport and sometimes players can bring a “little something extra” to the field. Safe sex is great for reducing risk of viral sexual infections like HIV, however common STIs like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes and crabs can be easily spread though a variety of sexual activities.

Good news is that treatment is straight forward, however if not treated there can be serious complications in some cases. For this reason it’s important to not only get treated yourself, but also to let your sexual partners know so they can too.

Sometimes if you have attended a sex-on-premises venue it can be hard to identify specific sexual partners, however if you can it’s important you get in contact.

If you know your partner it can be a little harder to bring the topic into the open, but as I mentioned treatment is vital so it’s time to man up and bite the bullet.

By far the best way to offer this information is talking to your partner.

Some tips offered by the Australian website Let Them Know:

  • Do it straight away. If you put it off, you might never tell them.
  • Plan what you are going to say.
  • Don’t feel you have to provide a lot of information. Take along a Fact Sheet or give them our website address or phone numbers to contact local sexual health services.
  • If you are phoning them, ask if you have called at a good time before giving them the news.
  • Avoid phrases like “You’ve given me Chlamydia”. It may make your partner angry and defensive

Remember the keys are to avoid blame and potential anger. Some phrases that may help include:

“I’ve just had my regular sexual health check and they found Chlamydia (or what ever STI you may have). Good news is that they have been able to treat it and it was very simple. I just thought it was important to let you know in case you may have also been exposed.”

If you are worried or unsure about how they will react you can also send a letter, email or even an anonymous SMS via the Let Them Know website.

Letting a partner know about serious infections like HIV can be very frightening and sometimes tricky. I highly recommend talking with your doctor about planning how to do this in a way that enables you and your partner to feel safe and supported.

Remember the goal is to help ensure your partner gets tested and treated. If you are on the receiving end of one of these messages please remember how tough it must have been for the person to share this information with you. They did it because the want you to be healthy, not angry or upset.

Yours in great health.

Dr George

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