How To Tell Someone You Have An STI

Nov. 15, 2021

Simply. Honestly. Optimistically. And sooner, rather than later.

Although news about a sexually transmitted infection won’t usually be met with joy or a fist bump, it’s important to have the discussion with that “someone” before you are sexually intimate. Here are a few suggestions for making the conversation go as smoothly as possible:

  • Pick a comfortable, private place without many distractions.
  • Choose a time when you are both fairly relaxed and in a good frame of mind (not rushing off to class or at the end of a long day).
  • Stay positive. Your attitude can greatly influence how your message is received.
  • You might start out with, “I really enjoy being with you and that’s why I want to share something with you...” instead of “I have some bad news that really sucks...”.
  • Be well-informed about your infection, including how it’s transmitted, the signs and symptoms, how it’s treated, and ways to prevent it from spreading from one person to another. You might want to have some printed information to share.
  • Be prepared for their initial shock. They are entitled to their feelings of disappointment, fear, etc.
  • Give them time to absorb the news and ask you questions.
  • Don’t apologize. You can’t change the past. Stay focused on what you can do.

You may be surprised at the reaction you get. Your “someone” may not think it’s a big deal at all. They might be scared off. Or, perhaps they have some news for you, too. However they respond, you will know that you did the right thing.


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SexTalk is written by Lee Ann Hamilton, MA, CHES, David Salafsky, DrPH, MPH, and Carrie Johnson, MEd, CHES, health educators at The UA Campus Health Service.