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My partner just got tested and found out that s/he has a sexually transmitted disease (STD). I’m upset and scared. I’m not sure how to react. Could I have an STD? Should I get tested?

It’s really great that your partner was so open and honest about his or her STD testing results. A lot of times it’s really hard to talk to a partner about your STD status, so the fact that your partner communicated with you is really great. It says that your partner wants to make sure you get tested and treated, if necessary. It also says that he or she cares about your sexual health and that your partner feels like he or she can communicate with you. These are all good things.

It’s normal to feel taken a back or a bit shocked at first. However, once you let that pass there are a few things you’ll need to do.

First, talk to your current partner. Thank your partner for telling you and then ask when he or she got tested and what STD he or she tested positive for. If you and your partner have engaged in sexual behaviors, you’ll need to be tested for STDs to know if you have the same STD. It’s helpful to tell a health care provider which STD you think you might be at risk for.

Second, you’ll want to get tested for STDs also, even if you were recently tested. You can get tested by your health care provider, or get tested at a local free or low-cost and confidential clinic. Find a clinic near you. They can also help you get treatment if you test positive for an STD.  It is important to follow instructions from a health care provider, including taking any medications exactly as directed. This will help ensure a full cure for a bacterial STD (such as chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis) and will also help with symptoms and reduce the risk of passing a viral STD (like herpes or HPV).

Lastly, but certainly not least, you’ll want to notify any past partners if there is a chance your current partner contracted the STD from you. It’s really hard sometimes to tell who gave whom an STD. If you’ve engaged in sexual behaviors with people other than your current partner, you’ll want to reach out and tell them that they may want to be tested for STDs.

Remember, over 50 percent of sexually active people will get an STD by age 25. So having to deal with an STD is not unusual. Visit the American Sexual Health Association’s website for more information about STDs.

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