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Living with an STD
There are over 65 million Americans who currently have an STD.
Living with an STD can be tough, especially if you have an STD that has no cure. Finding out you have one can lead to lots of tough and awkward questions, like:
If you're nervous about talking to your partners, here are a few tips to help you gain confidence:
Whatever happens, try to be flexible. This is about sexual health -- it's not a "whodunit" mystery. Keep your perspective: syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea symptoms are annoying but harmless if you get proper treatment. If left untreated, not only can these infections wreak havoc on your body, but they can make it much easier to transmit HIV from sex partner to partner. Take care of yourself - talk to your partners today so they can get treatment and protect themselves – otherwise it’s possible that you could get reinfected because the disease is still in your network of friends and in your community.
You're not the only person who's having to make these decisions. There are programs all over the country where people come together to support each other and learn from each others’ experiences. They may be able to help you work through some of the issues you'll be facing.
People I may want to tell that I'm positive
You may be thinking about telling people you had unprotected sex with before you knew you were positive. Telling sex partners after the fact is not easy, but, it's a law in Idaho that those who are HIV positive must tell their partners before they have sex, so it’s something that must be done. You might want to ask them if they're already positive. If they're not, you might be able to help and support them through the process of getting tested.
FAMILY AND CLOSE FRIENDS
Some people don't tell their friends and families because they don't want them to worry or they're afraid of being rejected. By not telling, you could be cheating yourself out of an important source of love and support.
PEOPLE YOU WORK WITH
The main thing to know about HIV and the workplace is that you're entitled to protections under federal law. You can't lose your job just because you have HIV. It's often good to tell your supervisor, since you might need time off for doctor's appointments or other health reasons. And you may want to tell a workmate that you're close to; it never hurts to have a supportive friend in a place where you spend so much of your time.
PEOPLE YOU LIVE WITH
Roommates can see you at your most vulnerable. So even if you're not close, you might ask yourself if it will stress you out more not to disclose your status to your roommates than it would to let them know what's going on.
I'm not comfortable telling the people I had unprotected sex with. What are my options?
THIRD PARTY PARTNER NOTIFICATION
Through this service offered at most public health clinics, trained health workers notify your partners regarding their possible exposure to HIV infection without ever identifying you. For local testing and notification services, visit www.hivtest.org
An internet service to notify your sexual partners online that they may have been exposed to HIV or an STD. It's free and anonymous. No information is reported to any government or private agency. www.inspot.org
I’m positive, it feels like it’s a bigger deal for me
Once finding out they're positive, many people think that their sex lives are going to be turned upside down or even stop completely. That doesn't have to happen. But you are going to have to deal with the fact that you've got a viral STD or HIV whenever you're in a sexual situation. It's a good thing to be able to navigate the situation with more freedom and less anxiety. One thing many people who are positive say is that the more comfortable they are with being positive, the less they worry about what other people think of them and about being turned down sexually.