“Giving them this information is a standard courtesy.”
The majority of countries in the EU do not require people to reveal their STI status to their sexual partners.
Included in this list are Ireland, the UK, Germany, and Spain – countries where you can keep your sexually transmitted infection a secret from your past partners if you choose to do so.
However, new research from Treated.com has shown that countries that do not have partner guidelines in place have seen significant spikes in STI diagnoses over the past five years.
Between 2013 and 2017, countries without such guidelines have experienced 179 percent more diagnosed STI cases, than those with.
Overall, countries without guidelines saw cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea at least double compared to those with guidelines, with cases of syphilis being over three times as high in countries where you don’t have to reveal your STI status.
Despite the majority of EU countries not specifying partner notification, informing a person you’ve had sex with if you’ve contracted an STI is still entirely necessary.
Having the conversation may be awkward, stressful, and even upsetting, but the outcome will only be worse if a partner discovers that they have contracted an STI at a later date.
Research clinical lead Dr Daniel Atkinson says that people who test positive for an STI “definitely” need to inform their sexual partners.
“They’ll likely be advised to have a full STI screen, but they’ll be asked when getting tested if they’ve had any recent partners with an infection and what these infections were; so giving them this information is a standard courtesy,” he says.
“It’ll also be useful for them to know what the doctor has recommended – be it treatment, abstaining from sexual relations for a certain period or getting tested again in a few weeks – so they know what to expect if they test positive too.
“Ask them if they know where they can get tested. If they don’t, it might be helpful to them to let them know where you got your test result, and if you’re aware of any, what local services are nearby.”
Telling a partner that you have an STI might be difficult, but Dr Atkinson is adamant that there are ways to approach the subject that will make it less awkward.
He has devised a list of tips to help where the prospect of informing a partner may seem daunting.
Treat the importance of the conversation as a priority, but keep in mind that it’s most likely going to be difficult for the other person to hear that they need to get checked.
Choose somewhere quiet and neutral to have the conversation, ideally somewhere where you aren’t going to be disturbed.
Give the person as much information about what to do from here – such as where to get tested and what your own doctor told you to do.
In the case of HIV, you will need to tell the other person right away. Treatment is available that can stop the virus from developing, but only if it is taken within 72 hours of exposure.
Some sexual health services will offer to contact partners if you feel you can’t do it yourself.
They won’t disclose your identity and will usually tell your partner(s) that they may have come into contact with an STI, and that testing is recommended.
A list of free STI clinics in Ireland can be found here.