When you’re single and on the hunt for the right partner, it’s understood that the man of your dreams won’t appear in a perfect package. While being flexible about what you consider to be his flaws – low salary, annoying habits, bad credit—it’s important to understand that there may be more serious issues you have to come to terms with while exploring in today’s dating pool. Near the top of the list is the fact that he could have an incurable sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as herpes, HPV or HIV/AIDS. He may even be honest about it up front. But then what? Do you stay or bail? It’s a tough question, no doubt. According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 50 percent of the United States population that is sexually active will become infected with an STD in their lifetime. Condoms do not always protect against STDs that can be transmitted through anal, oral or vaginal sex.
Urologist Dr. Robert Hines MD and Planned Parenthood educator Pat Whitfield offer smart tips to follow when you’re romantically involved with someone who has an incurable STD and you want to protect yourself and communicate well with your partner.
1. The best time to discuss sex is before you have sex. People should be more open now because of all the STDs. If you are going to have sex, you should be able to talk about sex and STDs.
2. Ask your partner if they have had an STD screening or an HIV test, and when was their last test.
3. Suggest to your partner that the both of you get tested together and share the results.
4. Always practice safe sex using a latex condom.
5. If you are having sex with an infected person make sure to get regular checkups because you are putting yourself at risk for contracting their STD.
6. When your partner has an outbreak, sexual activity should not take place. Genital herpes can cause sores or breaks in the skin or lining of the mouth, vagina or rectum. When the sores come into contact with the mouth, vagina or rectum during sex, they increase the risk of giving or getting HIV if you or your partner already has the virus.
7. Educate yourself about these STDs before you become intimate with the person.
8. Social and economic conditions, such as high rates of poverty, income equality, unemployment, low educational attainment and geographic isolation can make it more difficult for individuals to protect their sexual health.
9. Abstinence is the most effective way to prevent contracting the disease between partners.
Black Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. HIV was the 5th leading cause of death for black men and the 7th leading cause of death for black women ages 25-44 in 2010, ranking higher than their counterparts in other racial groups. HIV-related deaths and HIV death rates are highest among blacks. The South accounts for the majority of newly infected HIV cases (61% in 2011). The New York and Miami areas had the greatest numbers of blacks living with an HIV diagnosis in 2010. Atlanta has the highest percentage of individuals with herpes and Baton Rouge, LA has the highest percentage of individuals with HIV/AIDS.
When it comes to dating someone with an incurable STD, women are often widely divided on whether it’s something they’re ever really comfortable with, and rightfully so. It’s a heavy issue and one that cannot be brushed under the rug or ignored in a successful relationship. But for those who haven’t ruled it out completely or who have also been diagnosed with an incurable STD themselves, there are also dating sites designed specifically for them, like MPWH.net, a site dedicated to connecting singles with herpes.
For more information call the CDC (800) 232-4636.
Dr. Shanessa Fenner is an elementary principal, TV show host, and writer.