“Hey Auntie Gayle, how do I tell my recent partners that I’ve tested positive for an STI? Also, do I really need to?” from Concerned Christchurch Cutie.
Today I’m answering one of my most commonly asked questions.
It can definitely feel a little anxiety-inducing to let someone know you have an STI - but so much of this stems from the stigma hanging around STIs in general. When, in actuality, I’d love to know if you have an STI and I imagine a lot your bed-buds would too.
Why, you ask? Because, that’s how I know to get tested and treated - especially if it’s not time for my regular sexual health checkup. Then, if it turns out I have something too, I can tell my own exhaustive list of recent bum-chums to get tested.
Let me tell you a bit of a story about why you need to make sure you tell me when you get an STI ;).
A Tale of Two Holes, by your Auntie Gayle.
Once upon a time, there were two Holes who both found friends on the same dinky little app that helps hungry Holes find … uh ... Pegs… has the analogy worn thinner than Auntie’s oldest pair of hip-pads yet?
Both Holes met some lovely Pegs and a good time was had by all.
A few days later Hole No.1 heads along to the Hole-doctor for a regular checkup and finds out it’s got a case of chlamydia. This Hole had a moment’s panic, then remembered, getting tested and treated actually stops more Holes and Pegs from getting anything and it needed to let recent Pegs know.
So, this Hole hunted through its flat and found scraps of paper with Peg's numbers, checked its app messenger history and compiled a list of its sexual encounters since its last test. Gave them a ring or a text to let them know, “Spot of bad luck, love - I’ve managed to get the clam and you should head out and get a test at your soonest convenience”.
These Pegs appreciated the heads-up and, even though they felt a little worried at first, did just that - and let everyone on their lists know to get tested too if they got a positive result.
Hole No.2 also went to the doctor a few days later, with complaints of a bit of an itch around its edges. The doctor let the Hole know it had a case of gonorrhoea. The Hole was given treatment and left it at that.
Hole No.2 decided it was too stressful to track down those recent Pegs and have an awkward conversation.
A few months later some of Hole No.2's Pegs found out they too had contracted gonorrhoea, but they’d met plenty more Holes since little old No.2 and now it’s likely a whole bunch more Holes may need to be tested and treated.
Now, Hole No.2 isn’t necessarily a bad Hole - but you can see how much more of an impact a little STI can have on our w/hole community without a little 'Tell Me' conversation.
So, if we all keep telling each other when these things happen, the stigma of it all will start to go away bit-by-bit. Then, what was once an awkies convo will just be a normal part of a healthy, active sex life.
Tell everyone from the last 3 months (or since your last test). Yes, even that person.
These days you don’t even need to be clever about it or know all the right words. The darlings at Ending HIV have made an app thingy that figures out the words for you.
If you have any questions for your Auntie Gayle, just chuck them in the wee form below. You can make up any name you like and there’s nothing to be ashamed of - ask anything you like, any burning questions you may have (even if it’s about it burning when you pee).