When and how do I bring up the idea that we should both get tested for STD’s and share the information with each other when we are starting a relationship?
The beginning of a relationship is the best time to get to know someone before you decide whether or not you want to have sex with him or her. We all show up in relationships with our “game face” - meaning that we don’t let the other person see all of our goofy traits and habits in the beginning. If you wait and get to know the person, you’ll see who he or she really is. Then you can decide from there if you want to have sex.
Sex is a very grown up activity with very grown up consequences. We feel very strongly that if you can’t have an open and honest conversation with your partner, then you probably shouldn’t have sex in the first place. If you wait and get to know the person, and that person is trustworthy, then you’ll hopefully know what he or she has been up to for the past few months.
Testing should be brought up during the first conversation about sex. It’s a serious topic but it’s also okay to keep the conversation casual. “I read so much in health class about STD’s that I think we should get tested before we go any further.” If the person respects you, then he or she will go along. Some people may be defensive about getting tested. How will you handle it if he/she refuses to get tested? That would send up a warning signal in my head. If your partner is not willing to protect you, is that really the person you want to give your body to?
Some STD tests are fairly immediate such as Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Herpes. However, the HIV test is not. It tests for antibodies that fight the HIV virus, which can take a few months to show up. So, the test results that you get from an HIV test show what the person was doing 2-3 months before the test, not last week or last night. A person can contract and spread HIV within 24 hours. Click here for testing sites.
Once you do get tested, you still should use a condom. If you have sex with someone unprotected, you‘re sharing the germs of every person that person has had sex with unprotected.
Finally, before you have sex, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do I want to have sex?
- Whose idea is it to have sex? Do I feel pressured?
- Do I think that he/she will leave if I don’t have sex? What if I have sex and the person still leaves?
- Do I know this person well enough to trust him or her?
- What are some possible consequences to having sex? Am I ready to deal with them?