Dear Di

You’ve contracted an STI, got it diagnosed, and got your antibiotics. Now it’s time for the hardest part — telling your partner(s) they have it too. Photo: Maxpixel/Edits Rame Abdulkader
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Dear Di, 

So, it seems I’ve got myself an STI. I’m not in a relationship and I’ve had several sexual partners in the past few weeks, so it looks like I’m going to have to tell them all. What do you think is the best way to go about this? 

— Quarantined

Dear Q, 

It’s a sticky situation you’ve got yourself in, but not at all an uncommon one. According to Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, 75 per cent of Canadians have had one form or another of human papillomavirus (HPV) in their lifetime, 100 000 get chlamydia each year, and as many as one in seven Canadians have the virus that leads to genital herpes. 

So, don’t feel too upset about that. It happens to the best of us. Most sexually transmitted infections (STI) are easily treated if caught early enough. 

Most importantly, you’re asking the right question; what is the best way to go about telling someone you gave them a sexually transmitted infection; and not “should I tell my sexual partners I have an STI?” 

Honestly, there’s no easy way to do this. I honestly can’t tell you how to do this, so instead, I’ll tell you how not to and you can go from there.

First off, do not tell them over text or any other form of social media. That is classless and you owe them better. 

Ideally, tell them in person. In an interview for Vice on the topic, professional hostage negotiator Ben Lopez recommends even going to a public place like a coffee shop if you’re nervous about how they’ll react. If that isn’t possible, at least have the courtesy to call them. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you’ve got to maintain an apologetic tone throughout. They’re allowed to be upset, you’re screwing them, and not in a fun way. 

Lopez says that just like in his line of work, drawing out the process longer than necessary should be avoided. Just rip off the Band-Aid. Saying “we need to talk” and then circling around it for 10 minutes is only going to heighten the tension.

It probably goes without saying — I mean, who intentionally gives somebody an infection? But it doesn’t hurt to give them an apology that includes “I didn’t know,” and follow that up with “but I’ll help you sort it out now that I do.” 

And for the love of god, pay for their coffee.