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Is It Necessary To Always Tell Partners About Your STD?

I was having dinner with some friends the other night, one of whom does HIV research. We started talking about STDs in general when another friend admitted she’s had herpes for about 10 years. She said she contracted it from the second guy she ever slept with and though she hasn’t had an outbreak in about 8 years, she always tells potential sex partners about it. I was surprised when she said that her gynecologist said that as long as she isn’t in the middle of an outbreak, there’s really no need to tell a sex partner — then I remembered this letter to advice columnist Jamie Bufalino in last week’s Time Out New York. A young woman writes:

“I’m a 23-year-old female, and just found out yesterday that I have contracted HPV/genital warts. I called the four people I’ve slept with in the past year to inform them, saving my current beau (he’s 28, BTW) for last. When I got on the phone with him (he lives in Boston, I’m in New York), I hardly had to say anything because he quickly responded: “Oh yeah, I have HPV too.” We’ve been dating for four months and he never bothered to mention that his last two girlfriends both magically contracted this virus after being with him. He apologized, said he felt terrible that he never told me, that he had planned to tell me soon, asked what he could do to make up for it, etc. I told him I never wanted to speak to him again. Now, the morning after, I wonder: Is getting an STD just part of being an adult? Or is passing a virus a deal breaker?”

You can read Jamie’s full response at TONY.com, but basically he calls the guy out for being a coward and a chump and says it’s everyone’s responsibility to confess to every STD he or she has before having sex with a potential partner. But in a time when at least 50% of American men and women are infected with HPV (and I’ve seen some sources claim that that number is more like 80%), is it necessary to always tell people you’ve got it if they haven’t outright asked? Are there certain STDs you always must tell partners about and others it’s okay to keep mum about? What say you?

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