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Should I tell my partner I had an affair?
Jul 20, 1998

I HAD A ONE NIGHT STAND WITH A PERSON I NEW, WELL EDUCATED BUT SINGLE.MY CONDOM FELL OFF DURING SEX, BUT I DONT KNOW WHEN.SHE HAS HAD OTHER SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS BUT CLAIMS SHE KNOWS THEM AND NO PROBLEMS HAVE OCCURED.IVE HAD NO SIGNS OF FLU OR OTHER PROBLEMS YET. ITS BEEN 6 WEEKS.IF I TEST MY WIFE WILL FIND OUT AND I DONT WANT TO FACE THE CHANCE OF LOSING HER.MY PARTNER WAS 45 AND CLAIMS NO PROBLEMS.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question. First of all, in terms of your risks, if you had sex with another person (either unprotected sex, or having a condom break or fall off), you would then be at risk for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). The longer you are having unprotected sex with an infected person, the greater your risk becomes. Also, when it comes to HIV and other STDs, you can become infected after having sex just one time. Likewise, you can have sex with an infected person multiple times and still not get infected. But the more times you put yourself at risk, the greater the chance of getting infected with one of these diseases. You cannot always rely on what people tell you (regarding their risks), especially when it comes to sexual issues. When it comes to sexual issues, people will often not tell you the truth. And remember that a person can have an STD without even knowing it, since they may not have any symptoms. If you became infected with HIV or another STD from this encounter, you would then put all of your other partners at risk as well (including your wife).

Should you tell your partner (wife) you were possibly exposed to HIV or another STD? There is no easy answer to this question, since the dynamics of every relationship is different. But it is important to keep the following in mind:

1) Whatever has happened is over and done with. You cannot change the past. You can only change the present and the future. You are going to have to accept responsibility for whatever has happened.

2) Whether you tell your regular partner (wife) about your other partner(s) is totally up to you. Some people take this type of news better than you would expect. Other people can take this type of news worse than you would expect.

3) If you got infected with HIV or another STD, and you then have unprotected sex with your regular partner (wife), you can then infect them too. If your partner (wife) finds out you have been unfaithful (after they get diagnosed with an STD), this often can lead to significant problems in a relationship. Telling your partner you have been unfaithful can be hard on a relationship. Having your partner (wife) find this out when they get HIV or another STD, can be even worse.

4) You should consider using condoms with all of your partners (including your wife) over the next 6 months. If you do not usually use condoms with them, it is up to you to decide how you will approach this subject with them (regarding the need to use condoms).

5) There are ways of getting tested without your wife (or other partners) finding out. But remember, it can take weeks or months for tests to detect an infection (depending on which STD it is). For more information on STD window periods, see the posting STDs and testing .

6) If you are having problems coping with this issue, especially as it relates to guilt and similar emotions, you may want to talk to a mental health counselor for assistance. But remember, nobody else can tell you whether you should tell your partner (wife) or not. Only you can make that decision.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).



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