Tell Your Partner(s)
Partner notification is an important part of preventing the spread of HIV and STDs. Once someone knows they may have been exposed to HIV or an STD, they can get tested and prevent spreading it to anyone else.
Telling a partner they may be at risk for HIV or an STD can be difficult.
Reflect. Start by reflecting on how you feel about learning that you have an STD, suggests Gail Wyatt, a professor in the psychiatry department at the University of California-Los Angeles and a clinical psychologist who counsels patients diagnosed with STDs. Then try to have compassion for yourself. “You’re a victim too,” says Bonnie Jacobson, an adjunct professor in the applied psychology department at New York University, “because you didn’t do anything intentionally to get this disease.” This may help to alleviate some of the shame and humiliation and fear of rejection that may follow diagnosis, she adds. Fear of rejection is often the reason why some may evade this discussion entirely, she says.
Practice. Write out a script with talking points. Practice in the mirror. The most important thing when having this sensitive discussion is to be genuine and sorry, says Wyatt.
Choose your setting. Ideally, this conversation would take place in a comfortable space, face to face, where neither partner is intoxicated or about to engage in a sexual act—just a matter-of-fact, middle-of-the-day conversation, suggests Jeffrey Klausner, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s STD Prevention and Control Services.