What You Should To If Your Partner Has an STI

by Jeff Cans
condom packet with safe sex words peaking out of man's jean crotch

When someone has a sexually transmitted infection or disease, it is important that they are honest about it with any sexual partner that they might have. If your partner tells you that they have an STI, then you can still find a way to continue engaging in sexual intercourse as long as certain necessary precautions are in place. You should definitely make sure that you do not get infected, but you do not usually need to abstain from sex for a long time and you do not need to leave your partner for someone who has no STI. You just need to get tested to make sure that you have not already been infected and you should also make sure to engage in a variety safe sex practices.

Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two of the most common STIs and most people are completely asymptomatic, which means you usually need to get STI screening to find out if you have it. However, sometimes, symptoms do present themselves and many of these symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable or even painful, which means you definitely want to protect yourself from these STIs. Luckily, chlamydia and gonorrhea are both curable with the right treatment. You can also practice safer sex to prevent the spread of the virus.

The best way to protect yourself from these common STIs is to use a condom because they are spread through bodily fluids alone. Correct and consistent use of a condom will almost completely eliminate your risks of getting gonorrhea and chlamydia. You also might want to consider abstaining from penetrative sex until your partner is cured. A healthcare provider will tell your partner when it is safe to have sex again, but you should not have to wait too long.


couple in white shirts with red ribbon for HIV awarenessIt used to be common practice in the queer community to make sure that people with HIV or AIDS only slept with individuals who also tested positive for the virus. However, nowadays, this convention is rather unnecessary. If your partner tests positive for HIV, then you can take Pre-exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP, a drug that you take once a day to reduce your risk of transmission by about 92%. The other 8% can be eliminated by using condom so that your risk of getting HIV goes down to almost zero. If you use a condom correctly, you probably will not even need PrEP, but PrEP is still a good precautionary measure in case your condom breaks.

Additionally, if your partner is taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs, then the virus should remain virtually undetectable in their blood and other bodily fluids, which significantly reduces the risk of transmission. Multiple trials have been conducted on whether people taking ART can transmit HIV. In every study, not a single person who was taking ART drugs spread the infection to a partner. However, even if your partner takes ART medication, you should still use condoms or PrEP since trials are very different from real life. In reality, people can forget to take ART and ART sometimes takes a long time to make the viral load undetectable. Therefore, you should not rely on ART alone, even though the trials suggest that you can. Your best option is to use some sort of combination of ART, PrEP, and condoms in order to keep you safe.

Genital Herpes

Unfortunately, condoms only reduce herpes transmission risks by about 50% because herpes can spread through contact of the skin in areas that are not covered by a condom (such as the buttocks and the upper thighs). Luckily, if you do get herpes, you will likely experience very few symptoms. Most people do not know that they have herpes because it very rarely does anything to you except cause a few sores to appear on your genitals every now and then. Usually, you do not even feel these sores and, unless you or your intimate partner sees them, you would not know that they were there. More problematic symptoms are very rare and there are drugs you can take to manage these symptoms.

Additionally, you can still protect yourself from herpes by limiting how often you have sex. Herpes is most likely to spread when your partner’s sores and other symptoms are present. Therefore, if you or your partner notice a flare up of symptoms, you should abstain from sex until it goes away. Your partner can minimize how often sores and symptoms appear by taking certain medication. On the days when there are no sores, it is still possible to transmit the disease, but using a condom will significantly decrease the risks.

Human Papillomavirus

man holding a condom for safe sexHPV is often a more worrisome STIs because, if your body does not end up expelling the virus from your system, the virus can eventually cause cancer. However, your body usually does expel the virus after about a year and most of the cancers are actually very treatable. Still, nobody wants to run the risk of getting cancer, even if mortality rates for these cancers are low. If your partner has HPV, you definitely do not have to wait a year before having sex in order to make sure the virus has been expelled from your partner’s body.

Instead, there are a number of measures that you should take to make sure that you do not get infected. There is a vaccine for HPV, which can completely protect you if you have not already been infected. Condoms will also be effective in reducing your risk of infection. Additionally, condoms and safe anal sex can both prevent you from getting penile cancer.

STIs and STDs are extremely common and they can cause many health problems, but if you find out that your partner has an STI, you do not need to get scared and you should try to be supportive of your partner. The first step that you should take is to go to the doctor to get tested. If you do not have any infections, then you can engage in certain practices to make sure that you never end up getting an STI. Condoms will always be very effective and, for some STDs, you can also try other methods of protection.

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