Getting tested for an STD is one thing. Knowing what to do with the information after the results come out is a different ball game. Finding out that you are healthy and not a carrier will obviously deliver lots of relief. Those who have an STD, however, will need to make a few very important decisions.
The first one is obviously about getting treatment. The second involves sharing the information with an intimate partner.
Do you have to tell a lover or a significant other that you contracted a STD? The question can be examined from two angles – the ethical and the legal one.
The Ethics of Sharing STD Information
Getting tested for STDs is precisely for the purpose of protecting yourself and your sexual partner from infections and diseases. Hence, you have the moral obligation of telling others what your status is. That obligation doesn’t just extend to a current partner. Depending on the type of sexually transmitted infection and the stage it’s in, you may have to inform former partners, as well.
A rapid HIV antigen/antibody test, for example, may detect an infection in about 90 days from exposure. That’s quite a lot of time. People who have experienced a recent change in sexual partner will need to talk to their ex, even if such a conversation is incredibly challenging.
The Legal Aspect of Withholding STD Information
In Singapore, you have a legal obligation to share your status with a partner for an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Under the Infectious Diseases Act of 1976, a person who is HIV-positive cannot engage in any sexual activity with another person unless their status has been disclosed in advance. When provided with sufficient information, a person can consent and make the conscious decision to engage in a sexual relationship, regardless of the risk.
The law states that it’s not enough to just tell a partner you’re HIV-positive. Rather, it’s your obligation to educate them on the risks of contracting HIV through sexual activity. If this hasn’t happened, an individual has the right to file a police report.
Anyone who violates the Infectious Diseases Act is liable and bound to experience legal consequences. These include a fine of up to 50,000 dollars and even a prison sentence of up to 10 years (depending on the aggravating circumstances).
And if you think this is just a legal formality, you should think again. In 2018, a 29-year-old HIV-positive man received a two-year prison sentence after infecting their sexual partner. The two men met online and the HIV-positive partner didn’t provide clear information on the risks of contracting HIV. Barrier contraception like a condom wasn’t used on several occasions, which further increased the risk of an HIV infection.
During the trial, the partner of the man who withheld important information testified that he wouldn’t have engaged in sexual activity had he been provided with details on the risk.
There is no legal requirement to talk to a partner about other STDs. Still, you’ll have to live with the consequences of the decision to withhold such information, depriving another person from a chance to protect their health.
How to Share Such Sensitive Information with a Partner?
To sum it up, you have both a moral and a legal information to share your status with a partner.
But how do you initiate such a conversation? And how do you make sure they’re not going to judge you?
The best approach is to be honest and to have the conversation early on. There’s always the risk of someone special deciding not to pursue a relationship with you. If they choose to stick around, however, you’ll definitely benefit from an amazing connection.
Be direct and don’t try to sugar-coat things – there really isn’t a way to make the news any less impactful than it already is. Also, prepare for your partner to be surprised or very emotional when you give them the news. These are normal responses. Give them some time to process the information. Pushing them to decide on the future of the relationship right then and there is the worst possible approach.
The next thing you need to do is listen. Give your partner a chance to respond, be angry or as questions. Be present in the conversation and make it count for both of you. If you handle the situation correctly, it can actually become an effective bonding experience.
If there are further questions and uncertainties, consider visiting a sexual health clinic together.
A place like Shim Clinic provides readily available opportunities to get tested for some of the most common STDs. On top of that, you can benefit from the know-how and experience of our professionals. If you want to have a deep and enlightening conversation about living with an STD, this is the place to visit.
Contact Shim Clinic now or visit us during working hours every day of the week. We have you fully covered as far as your sexual health goes.