Talking to a partner about HIV and STIs is not always easy, but it is important to communicate with your partners about these topics.

It is helpful to ask people whether they are HIV positive and when they were last tested for STIs. About one in five people do not know they are HIV positive.

Talking to potential partners about STIs before having sex can be uncomfortable, but is an important part of keeping yourself and your partners healthy.

Here are some tips to help start the conversation:

  • Share the last time you were tested
  • Offer to go get tested together
  • Discuss what STI prevention methods you would like to use, such as condoms
  • Avoid placing blame if one of you tests positive

If you test positive for an STI:

  • Consider planning to inform recent sexual partners
  • Try to stay calm and keep a positive attitude when telling your partner–having an STI does not mean anything about you as a person
  • Read up on the facts or speak with your provider so you are ready to answer some of your partner’s questions
  • Practice out loud to yourself or with a friend that you trust so you can feel more confident when talking to your partner
  • Pick a time when you won’t be distracted or interrupted, and a place that is private and relaxed
  • If you are concerned for your safety, you can email, call, or text your partner. It is very important that your partners are notified so that they may be tested and/or treated. If you test positive for certain STIs, such as syphilis, you may be approached for Partner Notification Services, a RI Department of Health program that confidentially and anonymously reaches out to partners to recommend testing or treatment. Treatment is available at the Miriam STI Clinic and Open Door Health.

The RIghtTime App has many sexual health resources, including a tool to anonymously notify your partners of an exposure or if you test positive for an STI. You can download it here:


If at any time during discussions of STIs or sexual health you are afraid that your partner may hurt you, or if you feel you are in danger, you can call 1-800-799-SAFE or go to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website ( for help.