Taking Your Partner's Sexual History

Lives Are At Stake

Every hour of the day, two young adults contract HIV. Even more worrisome is the fact that worldwide, over 50% of new HIV infections occur in young adults. One out of every four sexually active young adults will get an STD this year and one of out every five sexually active teenage girls will become pregnant. It may be hard to come to grips with such grim statistics, but we have no choice: our lives are at stake.

The best and most powerful tool you have against AIDS and other STDs is communication. Talk with your partner about your sexual histories and discuss safe sex. It may be difficult and embarrassing, but it's a necessity.

Here are some tips to get the ball rolling:

Make sure you choose a time that is convenient for both of you so that there won't be any distractions.

Pick a neutral, relaxed environment, like a cafe or a park, so no one has the upper hand and there's no pressure.

Use "I" and not "You" statements. For instance: I'm not ready to have sex. Or, I would feel more comfortable if we used a condom.

Don't let fear of a negative reaction keep you from open discussion. Make sure you ask the hard questions.

Listen to your partner and show that you care about his/her opinions and feelings.

Be approachable. Your partner should feel he can ask you questions without fear of offending you.

If your partner tries to get out of such discussion, be firm, and stick to your guns.

Know your limits. You can't protect both of you--he has to cooperate.

Walk the Walk

After the talk about safe sex, make sure he walks the walk: all talk and no action shows a lack of respect for your health (not to mention his own).

Be informed. Learn what you need to know to make the right decisions.

Assume makes an ass out of u and me. Don't make assumptions about his sexual history, contraceptive use, and STD tests. Make sure that all your questions are asked and your fears addressed before you have sex. For example, ask the question: Do we have a condom for tonight?

Don't criticize, condemn, or complain. You can add to that list all of the following don'ts: judge, label, blame, threaten, and bribe.

Talk before you get intimate, not when you're already hot and bothered. That's no way to have a rational discussion.

Don't be tricked into doing something you don't want to do because of words like: If you loved me you would trust me enough not to make me use a condom.

If he loved you, he'd darn well put on that condom, Toots.

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