If you have tested positive for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), it’s crucial to disclose your condition to your partner(s) to protect their safety and health.

This talk is not the easiest to have. So how should you go about it?

Read on to prepare for this vital conversation with past, current, or newly affected partners.

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Decide How You Will Let Them Know

How you tell your partner that you have an STI will depend on your relationship and what you prefer. 

Meeting face to face, having a video/phone call, or sending a text message are all valid options.

Byte Author Uploaded ImageThe only wrong way to tell them you have an STI is to not tell them at all!


When would be an appropriate time to have this talk?

When you are both in a good mood

On your lunch break

At the end of a long day

After having a few drinks

Plan It Out

Think about what you’re going to say in advance:

  • write down what you want to say

  • practice in front of a mirror

  • talk it through with a trusted friend

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Finding the right words to begin the conversation can be challenging, so try using one of the following examples as an icebreaker:

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"I care about you, and I want to protect you by telling you that I have…"

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"Have you ever had an STI? The reason I am asking is that I have..."

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"I'm really happy with our relationship and value honesty. I want you to know that I have..."

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"Before we have sex, I want us to talk about STIs & protection because I have..."

Share The Specifics Of Your STI

Explain what type of STI you have and how you got it.

Let your partner know that they need to get tested if they were exposed.

Be direct, honest, and stick to the facts.

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You Can't Control Their Reaction

Anticipate - and prepare for - possible reactions that your partner may have.

They may:

  • panic

  • be angry

  • have questions

  • need some space to think and get used to the idea

Try to stay calm.

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Listen To What They Have To Say

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Effective conversations are not one-sided. Allow your partner time to share their thoughts, concerns, questions, or fears.

Acknowledge their feelings, even if they are different from your own.

It may help to remember how you felt when you first tested positive for an STI.

Support Them With The Facts

Share what you know about the symptoms or treatment.

Look up reliable resources, like health centers, websites, or pamphlets, to find more information.

Give your partner time to research on their own too.

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What's an example of a reliable resource?

That rom-com you watched last week

Your friend's post on Facebook

A health forum on Reddit

A Government health website

Move Forward

Don't pressure your partner to decide on the spot about sex or your relationship.

Byte Author Uploaded ImageIf you and your partner choose to have sex, practice safe sex with a condom/dam/glove.

If you and your partner decide against having sex, remember that there are other ways that you can be intimate or show physical affection.

Take Action

It takes openness and courage to tell a partner that you have an STI. You cannot control how they react, but you do have control over how you share this information.

After testing positive for an STI make sure to:

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This Byte has been authored by


Carol Starratt

Learning Experience Designer