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A girlfriend of mine was telling me a story about how she recently went to the gynecologist for her checkup and to get on a new form of birth control, and received a wake-up call about her health and her relationship.

She sat in the office and was asked about her sexual health, how often she exercised, her vitamin use, if she was using protection, specifically condoms–and if she would be interested in having an HIV test:

“Oh, no. I’m good,” she replied, assuming that because her boyfriend was the only guy she had been with in years, she was in the free and clear.

“How long have you been with your partner?” the gynecologist asked.

“Five years.”

“Oh okay. You should still probably try and have one.”

My friend was under the impression that because she had been with her boyfriend for so long and knew him so well, she didn’t have to worry about such issues.

“At the time I’m like, if I had it, wouldn’t I know by now?” she joked with me. “I trust him, so I really didn’t think about the idea that he could have gotten something before we got together or that he may have contracted something during our relationship,” she said. “But the reality is, you just never know.”

And that’s true. I literally ran across a forum where a woman shared that her partner of almost four years had recently tested positive for HIV, but thankfully, she was negative. They had been monogamous during their relationship, but before they got together, he was active with quite a few different women.

One woman in a study featured in the American Journal of Public Health shared that she wanted to use protection in her marriage, but her husband was not here for it, making her worried about her own status consistently.

“My husband refuses to use condoms. We’ve been having unprotected sex the entire time we’ve been together—5 years—and he’s still HIV negative. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. I get so upset about it. It’s so sad to me that my husband won’t use a condom.”

And experts say that even in a serious relationship, anytime you have sex, you are at risk of contracting HIV, so each time you have your pap smear, you should be getting tested to find out your status. Especially since most birth control doesn’t keep you protected from HIV.

With that being said, while we would all like to believe that we can trust everything our spouses say and do, it’s always most important to look out for yourself.

In case you were wondering, my friend did end up getting tested, and she was able to confirm what she had already believed: she was HIV negative. However, as they say, it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.

With that being said, how often do you get tested for HIV in your own long-term relationship? Have you ever been guilty of assuming that because you and your companion have (or your ex) been together for some time, you are negative and don’t need to get tested? And how should one go about having a conversation with a long-time partner about getting tested too?

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