Q: I’m very uncomfortable with asking my dates about whether they’ve been tested for HIV, and insisting that they get tested before any sexual contact. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, or insinuate any negative judgments about them. What are some easy steps to go about asking someone to get tested without offending them?
A: This is an important question and not one easy to answer. One thing I will say up front is that if someone, male or female, gay or straight has an issue with you requesting testing for your safety, I would simply not get intimate with that person (I know, you’re saying, “that’s easy for you to say!”). But that person would not seem to have your safety as a major concern.
One suggestion is to bring up the topic in a broader discussion about health issues. For example, “I went to the doctor for my regular exam and got a clean bill of health. My blood pressure was good, blood glucose good, negative STD, negative HIV and normal cholesterol. By the way, have you ever had an HIV test? This would allow us to move forward in our relationship” You could simply make it a requirement for sex, requiring a comprehensive screen HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Herpes, etc.. Remember, there is no cure for Herpes infections. Other STD’s can damage the female and male reproductive tract (Did you see “For Colored Girls…..?) and lead to sterility. If someone interprets you need for safety and peace of mind as an insult with today’s HIV epidemic, you need to dump him or her. I’m not trying to be Dr. Phil or Dr. Drew, but put yourself first. If you’re still uncomfortable asking, then condoms should be used until the issue is resolved. Next time, ask me something easier, like a question about drug-drug interactions or antibiotic resistance!