Dear McKoy: I’m a 25-year-old man who has been dating my 20-year-old girlfriend for the past six months. Things are going well, we’re taking things seriously, and I envision a future with her. Overall, I’ve avoided STDs by getting tested after a partner, and she has as well. We’re both exclusive, and I trust her. I’ve never betrayed her. I am having a crisis right now that I need your advice on. My ex-girlfriend contacted me and told me she had tested positive for herpes. She said she knows who transmitted it to her and that it happened before we met. When we were together we always used protection, but I am aware that it can be transmitted through kissing and otherwise, so the condom is not 100 % effective against it. I went to the doctor and got tested, and the results were positive. To my knowledge, I’ve never had an outbreak, but I’ve done some research and am aware of how widespread this virus is in general, and that the stigma associated with it is far worse than the illness itself. With that said, it wouldn’t be fair not to notify my girlfriend, but I’m not sure how to handle the situation with her. I feel bad since we had unprotected sex and we were both unaware. I don’t think it is fair to her to keep her in the dark. Any advice how I can go about this?
Dear Dwayne: You are not the first person to keep their sexual health issues hidden from their partner. But if you don’t tell her, you will likely feel more anxious. Plus, I think you would want to know if it were you on the other end.
Oral-to-oral contact, including kissing or sharing a toothbrush, can spread genital herpes type 1, and unprotected sex with someone who already has it can spread type 2.
Notifying your partner of an STD is difficult, but necessary. It’s less awkward if you communicate the news in a casual atmosphere. It is difficult to tell you how a conversation like this will unfold. It all depends on your relationship’s strength and your willingness to address each other’s issues.
The basic issue is that any intimate partner needs to know if their spouse has a sexually transmitted virus or disease. Don’t let the past spoil your future.