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Testing positive

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Testing positive

It can be hard to talk about testing positive for an STI. It’s important, however, to remember that contracting an STI is much more common than people might think. The shame and embarrassment many feel around testing positive stem from the fact that there’s not enough openness and conversation about how common it is.

When someone tests positive, it becomes their responsibility to share this status with past partners who may have been exposed and current partners who could be exposed. That said, the person sharing the news shouldn’t be made to feel badly about their status. For many who have had an STI in the past, they took medication, no longer have it, and therefore can’t transmit it.

For others, they might have an STI with chronic symptoms they need to manage in an ongoing way. Open, honest, nonjudgmental communication will lead to better sex. Plus, there are tons of ways to stay safe even if someone has an existing STI.

For current partners:
  • “Honesty and communication are important to me, so I wanted to let you know I recently got tested for STIs and it came back positive for ______. I’m getting treated and will update you if anything about my status changes.”
  • “Do you think we can check in about STI status? I have something that’s important to share. It’s not necessarily a big deal, but I just want to make sure we’re staying safe and responsible.”
For past partners:
  • “Do you have a minute to chat? I want to talk about my recent STI test, because the results may impact you.”
  • “I wanted to do the responsible thing and reach out to let you know about my STI status. I recently found out I’m positive for _______, and wanted to let you know. Given our sexual history, there may be a chance you were exposed. I want to do everything I can to keep my past and current partners safe and healthy.”

Each person deserves access to information and services that affirm and support their sexual and gender identity while also caring for their overall sexual health. The right educational tools for the community and training for medical providers and mental health professionals can ensure LGBTQIA communities are better equipped to understand how to protect themselves and how to practice safer sex.

Practicing safer sex and protecting yourself won’t only increase the chances you and your sex partners stay STI-free. It’s also a tangible way to practice self-care and self-love.


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