If They’re Honest And Informed, You Can Have A Healthy Relationship With Someone With An STD
Usher has been in the news recently and we know it’s not for his latest hit single.
Court documents exposed that the R&B singer paid a woman $1.1 million for giving her herpes. Now another woman, named “Jane Doe” in the documents, is seeking $20 million for “emotional distress, negligence, and battery” after finding out that she’s contracted herpes. She claims that she had sexual encounters with the singer a few months back.
Did Usher really have unprotected sex knowing that he had an STD? Did he think that since it was a hookup, and not a serious relationship, that divulging such information was not essential? We don’t know all of the details of this situation, but either way, a person should always disclose their health status before they engage in sex — unprotected or protected. With 20 million new infections each year according to the CDC, it’s more important than ever for people to have open and honest communication sooner rather than later.
I would think that opening a first date (or a sexual encounter) with “Oh, by the way, I have gonorrhea” isn’t the best or most tactful way to inform your partner of your situation. However, letting them know sometime before entering the bedroom shouldn’t be an afterthought.
Not only does it need to be mandatory, but also, telling your partner of your status is a legal obligation. As sex educator Laura Jean McGuire told Men’s Health, “knowingly transmitting it to another person, or putting them at potential risk, is making a decision for them that is not yours to make.”
So how would you react if you found out someone you were interested in had an STD? If I were single, and happened to meet a man with whom I have a strong physical connection, only to find out he had a venereal disease, I probably wouldn’t take it well. I would most likely be put off by his admission, but at the same time, grateful for the honesty.
Gynecologist and sex counselor Terri Vanderlinde, D.O., said that most of the partners of her patients with STDs are appreciative that they were upfront and honest, and therefore, they can be more understanding. “They are much happier in a relationship where someone has taken a chance and bared their soul,” she said to Men’s Health.
Unfortunately, there’s a chance that someone can become infected with an STD and not know it before having sex with a new partner due to the absence of symptoms. In this case, experts suggest being direct with your partner about your exact diagnosis when you find out, and informing them that they need to get tested. “Use simple language they can understand,” said sex and relationship expert Dr. Tammy Nelson to the Huffington Post. “If you know how this happened, tell them. If you are as surprised as they are, be open about that. Tell them, ‘I thought something was strange, but honestly, I figured it was only a funny side effect of a medication I was on, so I didn’t think to tell you.’ Most people appreciate honesty and will relate to your naiveté, so don’t go into the conversation with any hidden agenda.”
Telling your partner that you have an STD before having sex or informing them about an unknown, and untreated ailment is one thing, but what if you have an STD that is incurable? You’re not alone. I stumbled upon the dating site PositiveSingles.com, which is solely for people who have an untreatable venereal disease. I initially didn’t like the thought of grouping people with STDs together, as it makes it seem as though they can’t mix and mingle with those without one. But I’ve realized sites like this offer people a way to ease any angst that might come with dating someone without an STD and having to endure being judged or dismissed over it. Fortunately, a person who is infected doesn’t have to find someone who has a similar diagnosis to have a successful relationship.
If you are the one with an STD, remain honest with your partner about any flare-ups, medications you’re on and doctor visits you have planned. After all, you want to make sure that they know their health is important to you as well. And if you are dating someone with an STD and you’re willing to make it work, be supportive, ask questions and even do your own research on the disease. Additionally, practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly is the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Don’t let those three letters prohibit you from being with a person you really have a connection with. But if you do decide to take the next steps and have a relationship with them, take necessary precautions. Make sure you’re both open and honest, sharing everything with one another about your health and your expectations so that you don’t have to share the disease.