It might be hard to talk to a partner about getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — but it’s important to have the conversation. Chances are your partner will be glad you brought it up.

Talk before you have sex.

You can say:

  • “Let’s get tested before we have sex. That way we can look out for each other.”
  • “Many people who have an STI don’t know it. Why take a chance when we can know for sure?”

There are other things you may want to talk to a sex partner about. For example:

  • Sexual history — like what type of protection you usually use (for example, condoms or dental dams) or the last time you got tested for STIs (including HIV)
  • Risk factors — like whether you’ve had sex without a condom or used drugs with needles

Share the facts.

You can say:

  • “Most STIs are easy to treat. And when they’re treated early, STIs are less likely to cause long-term health problems.”
  • “STI tests are quick, simple, and usually painless. For example, rapid HIV tests can provide results from just a swab inside the mouth in only 20 minutes.”
  • “If you want to get tested at home, you can get an HIV home test or self-testing kits for other STIs.”
  • “If you don’t feel comfortable talking about STIs with your regular doctor, you can get tested at a clinic instead.” 

Show that you care.

You can say:

  • “I really care about you. I want to make sure we’re both healthy.”
  • “I’ve been tested for STIs, including HIV. Are you willing to do that, too?”
  • “Let’s get tested together.”

Agree to stay safe.

You can say:

  • “If we’re going to have sex, using condoms is a good way to protect us both from STIs. Let’s use condoms every time we have sex.”
  • “We can enjoy sex more if we know it’s safe.”