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I just found out that I have a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Does this mean I should never have sex again? What do I tell my partner?

No, it does not mean you should never have sex again. It does mean, however, that you should talk to any partners before engaging in sexual behaviors (oral, anal and vaginal sex), about your status.

If you end up testing positive for an STD, know that you are not alone. It can be helpful to get more information about it so you can know the facts before you talk to anyone else about it. Your health care provider, a family planning counselor or the person that tested you can often be a good person to talk to about any questions you have. Sometimes people need time to get used to the news themselves before they feel comfortable talking about it with another person.

Some people get really nervous thinking about talking to a partner about an STD diagnosis. They might be afraid that their partner will be upset, dump them, say mean things to them or even go around telling other people. Even if you’re nervous, it’s really important to talk with your partner or partners about your diagnosis. If you have an STD, there is a chance that they have it, too. It’s important for your partner to get tested, too. If only one person in a partnership is treated, you can get re-infected right away.

Regardless of the kind of STD you have, practicing safer sex can help minimize the risk of transmitting it to a partner or getting re-infected. Talking with a partner about an STD diagnosis is something that is usually best done in a non-sexual situation. In other words, don’t wait to mention it until you’re in a sexual situation. You can let your partner know that you got tested and what the results are. It might help to have some information about the STD to share with your partner, including how to reduce the risk of transmission. Having all of the facts about the STD (how you get it, treatment, etc.) will make this conversation a lot easier.

Safety is important. You’re the expert on your own situation so you probably have an idea of whether it is safe to share this information with your partner. If you feel that you would be physically unsafe if you share your STD status with a partner, you may be able to get support doing so. Talk with your health care provider about whether they might be able to help inform partners that you tested positive for an STD. If you feel unsafe in your relationship, you can also get support from the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474 or online at Loveisrespect.

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