It isn’t easy to talk to anyone about your HPV status, whether that person is your close friend, doctor or partner. Often when we are alone, we turn to the Internet for help. Material on the topic of HPV can be overwhelming, intimidating and scary, especially with all the misinformation and stigma out there.
Knowing where to start and how to tell your partner can be scary, but guess what? Disclosing your HPV status to your partner can be a supportive and affirmative experience.
By disclosing your HPV status and making yourself vulnerable, it helps to establish trust between you and a partner. You are actively demonstrating to a partner that you care and value their sexual health as much as your own. It can also help to educate people since HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections and yet there is so much misinformation.
Educating people is one way of actively breaking the stigma associated with STI’s, which is crucial to helping people establish safe sex practices. No matter what happens, take comfort in making brave, compassionate and honest choices.
Here are a few tips from the team at Papillex to help make the conversation more comfortable for you:
Timing: Have the conversation early in your relationship or before any type of sexual activity. Get to know someone and make sure you feel safe and confident when you have this conversation, it will go much better when you feel calm and confident.
Where and When: Choose a time and place that is private and comfortable. The physical space you are in will either make you feel safe or uneasy. Make note of how you feel, and act accordingly. This could be while taking a hike or walk together or while making dinner at your home. It’s best to talk about STI status when you are in a private, quiet and safe space.
Planning: Your partner might have a lot of questions and this is your opportunity to educate them. Anticipate their questions so you can answer them in an informative way.
Set the tone: By sharing this information in a calm, reassuring, and educational manner, you will set the tone for the conversation. Listen to your partner and observe their response. Answer their questions as best you can and know that if you exhibit compassion, it’s likely they will too.
Honor yourself: No matter how the conversation goes, you should know you did something that took bravery and honesty. Many people do not know their STI status or are scared to share it. By doing so, you are helping others make informed choices about their health.
Stay informed and up-to-date with HPV facts and information.
“Telling Your Partner You Have an STD.” KidsHealth. Ed. Julia Brown Lancaster. The Nemours Foundation, Nov. 2015. Article