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STD Basics
As adapted from the American Social Health Association

While it may sound daunting to think about talking to your recent sex partners, perhaps also including your primary partner, and telling them that you've been diagnosed with an STD, it's important to let them know as soon as possible so they can get treatment, too. If these are people you have regular sexual relationships with, it can be even more important to discuss this because if one partner is untreated, many STDs can be passed back and forth indefinitely.

Remember, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are treatable STDs, where antibiotics work. However, if left untreated, syphilis can do extensive damage to your internal organs and neurological system, and gonorrheal and chlamydial infections can spread to other parts of your body. Talking to your partners about your diagnosis will not only reduce the stigma associated with getting an STD, but will help take care of the health of you, your sex partners, and the entire community.

You have to come to terms with your own diagnosis before you start talking to your partners. It's unrealistic to expect other people to understand if you're uncomfortable with the diagnosis yourself. How well-informed are you? Do you know the facts about STDs? You want to feel confident and knowledgeable before you explain the infection to someone else. You can also always call the CDC National STD Hotline with questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-227-8922 or 800-232-4636. In addition to talking to you personally, they can mail you brochures and information to have on hand to give to your partners. If you receive treatment for syphilis at San Francisco City Clinic, your clinician will also offer you "partner packs" with information and antibiotic treatment that you can give to your partners to make it easier for them to get treated for syphilis.

If you're nervous about talking to your partners, here are a few tips to help you gain confidence:

  • Try role-playing with a trusted friend or in front of a mirror. Practice saying the words out loud.
  • Choose a neutral setting during a time when you won't be distracted or interrupted. Be natural.
  • Speak with confidence. You are not lecturing or confessing. You're sharing personal information.
  • Remain calm. If you're upset, a partner might think it's worse than it is. Remember your delivery and body language becomes your message, too.
  • Expect your partner to be accepting and supportive. People usually act as you expect them to.

While some guys may overreact, some won't bat an eye. Since there is currently a syphilis epidemic among gay and bisexual men in San Francisco, and gonorrhea and chlamydia rates are on the rise as well, many sexually active guys won't be shocked or surprised. Whatever happens, try to be flexible. This is about sexual health -- yours, his and the community. Keeping perspective: syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea symptoms are annoying but harmless as long as 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. It's time to take care of yourself and take care of your community. Talk to your partners today.

Last modified on Tuesday, June 03, 2008.
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