By Felicia Vance, BDO Staff Writer
Before you get horizontal, you need to get answers.
Virtually everyone, at least theoretically, is risking their health with a new sexual partner. But how and when do you bring up the conversation of sexual health when you’re in the beginning stages of getting to know someone?
I doubt many people carry around medical records on dates, so it’s not like a person can pull test results out of their wallet. If you’re comfortable enough with the person, is there anything wrong with asking to take a trip to the doctor’s office? Even once the results are back, there is still no guarantee that everything’s good to go. So then it comes down to a matter of trust.
A closer look at statistics show that women and minorities carry most of the burden of sexually transmitted infections in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. Not only are complex, long-standing issues of health disparities among minorities to blame for this disproportionate impact, but simple female anatomy remains a risk factor as well.
Before hopping into bed with a new sex partner, have an open and honest conversation about your sexual histories, risks, and the last time you were tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Knowing someone’s test results isn’t enough. Even if your partner tested negative for HIV last week, it doesn’t mean he or she isn’t HIV positive. Most HIV tests can only detect the virus starting three to six months after infection—so you should ask about your partner’s sexual history for the past six months.
Here’s what you need to find out. Of course, you probably won’t get too far down the list if you just roll out the interrogation; but these are the questions you really do need answers to, one way or another. One option: Start by sharing your own history, and see what you get back. Experts suggest sharing your own history first to make this fact-finding mission seem less like an inquisition.
- What’s your HIV status?
- Have you ever had a sexual transmitted infection (STI)? Were you treated?
- How many partners have you had since you were last tested for HIV and other STIs?
- Have you been diagnosed with an STI in the past six months?
- If you have genital warts or herpes, are you having outbreaks? Are you being treated?
- Do you have any problem using a condom?
- What kind of birth control are you currently using?
- What sexual activities do you prefer?