Recently, the world was left shocked by news that Hollywood actor Charlie Sheen has contracted HIV. As someone who has been as widely publicized for his high sexual activity as he has been for his acting credentials, as much importance has been placed on the disclosure of his illness to his sexual partners and the impact that the diagnosis has had on them, as it has been on Charlie’s diagnosis on himself.
Whether you are in the public eye or not, it can be difficult to cope with news of your diagnosis and, for many people, a big worry is how they should approach telling their past, and future sexual partners about it. Yet, these conversations are massively important. Not only will they prevent you from worrying, but your partners have a right to know so that they too can protect themselves and seek the necessary medical advice as quickly as possible.
Sexually transmitted diseases and infections are becoming increasingly common and, therefore, are a very important topic, particularly when dating. Here is my dating expert advice on how to approach the situation confidently.
1) Practice Safe Sex
Firstly, practicing safe sex is incredibly important. Everybody knows that but, in reality, does everybody practice it? Do you? Sometimes it’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment, especially if you are with someone new and exciting. If you are sleeping with multiple partners on a regular basis then you are taking dangerous risks. This is unfortunately something Charlie has learned the hard way. He was brave to make the world aware he is HIV positive, but it was ultimately the right thing to do. Not just for him, but for is family and past and current partners.
2) Tinder Date…. Tinder Tell Them!!
As I mentioned, if you get an STI or STD then you could be potentially passing this on to everyone that you have sex with. Recent reports have suggested that the rise in the use of dating apps has resulted in an increasing amount of infections, due to the availability of casual sex. As a dating coach, I know that this is definitely becoming truer in younger singles than ever before.
As a dater, it’s absolutely your responsibility to be open and honest about any infection you might have. You can’t put anyone else at risk and if you don’t mention it you ruin any chances of making the relationship work in the long term. At some point they are going to find out anyway, so be truthful now or they’ll always wonder what else you are hiding.
Of course, this isn’t something you need to write on your online dating profile, Tinder account or even mention on a first date. It’s only when you know you’ve got to know each other well and are both ready to take things further. So what is the best way to do it?
3) Don’t Take It Personally. Their First Reaction Won’t Always Stay The Same
From experience talking to daters, I can tell you that many won’t be as put off as you think they might be. It’s not pleasant, but if you have made a deep connection with someone they are often willing to try to work out a way to overcome difficulties. It might take a little time for them to get their heads around it, but if they like you they eventually will. Do you think you might find it easy or difficult to accept if you were told this by someone you really liked?
4) Tell Them In A Calm, Neutral Situation
The best way is not to make a too big a deal out of it. If you don’t appear to be too concerned then they won’t need to be either. You do need to be direct though, so have a conversation when you are alone and relaxed. Allow them to ask you questions so they can discuss the situation and understand it better. The more they now know then the more comfortable they will be with the idea.
5) Better To Be Safe Than Sorry
If you find that you have caught an STI then the right thing to do is to get in touch with the last few people that you’ve had unprotected sex with. It’s not going to be an easy conversation, but it’s better for their own health if you warn them. Hopefully they will fine, but you would have picked it up from someone who might not be aware.
6) Prevention Is Better Than Cure: Have Regular Sexual Health Checks
Regular sexual health checks are important if you aren’t in a committed relationship. While HIV is contracted by blood and not saliva, it’s still possible to catch it through oral sex. So even if you are being safe, it’s worth both getting checked once you agree to start a serious relationship. If nothing more, it can offer you peace of mind.
If you do have an STI, then in many cases it’s fine to continue to have sex as long as you take precautions. Many can be treated quickly but if it’s more serious, as in Charlie Sheen’s case, the doctors will give you the very information and support to deal with it. If you do find you are HIV positive then modern treatments mean you can still live a very active and healthy life.
I hope this article will encourage you to be just that little being more careful. Have fun, but do it safely!