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Only About Half of Folks Would Tell New Sex Partner If They Had an STD
  • Posted June 7, 2024

Only About Half of Folks Would Tell New Sex Partner If They Had an STD

Only about half of people with a sexually transmitted disease would tell a new partner about their infection before having sex, a new review finds.

Fear prevents many people from revealing their STD to a new sex partner, according to the combined results of 32 previous studies.

Other reasons include believing that condom use provides enough protection; the lack of obligation that comes with a one-night stand; or anxiety over losing the relationship.

Some study participants even described “passing” as uninfected so they wouldn't have to reveal their STD, results show.

“Individuals diagnosed with STIs [sexually transmitted infections] may be in vulnerable positions and may face difficult decisions, the outcomes of which can be harmful to their identity and relationships. The process of disclosure is complex,” concluded the research team led by Kayley McMahan, a sexual health coordinator with the University of Tennessee.

About 1 in 5 people in the United States have an STD at any one time, with more than 26 million incidents reported to health services, researchers said in background notes.

Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have been at record levels and continue to rise, they added. 

People who disclosed their illness to their partner did so out of love, a sense of moral obligation, or feelings of having a strong, close relationship, researchers found.

“One of the key factors that determines whether an individual will disclose is the intended receiver,” the researchers said. “How the receiver will react and respond, and the relationship with the receiver, can be critical influences on the discloser.”

Ignorance regarding sexual health also contributed to people's decision not to disclose their STD, researchers said.

For example, people with herpes thought they can't pass it to a partner if their herpes was in remission, which is not true. They also thought that a condom would be enough to prevent transmission -- another falsehood.

The new study was published June 5 in the Journal of Sex Research.

Comprehensive sex education could help people make smarter decisions that better protect the health of their sex partners, researchers said.

“A lack of sexual health knowledge indicates that many individuals are not receiving sufficient comprehensive sexual health education,” the researchers said in a journal news release. “This is not surprising, particularly in the United States, as comprehensive sex education remains taboo, rather than the norm.”

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about sexually transmitted diseases.

SOURCE: Taylor & Francis Group, news release, June 6, 2024

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