There's no easy way to have this conversation. But this will help.
Have you gone through a breakup with someone and only realize later that you may have left something pretty major at his place? It'd be much easier to just forget the whole business and never contact him again but this "thing" is really, really important. Now imagine the thing is a potentially incurable infection and the place is his genitals. Yeah, you're gonna need to make that call. Or email. Or a singing telegram.
That was fun. Why do we have to tell people that we may have transmitted something painful, life-threatening and/or ostensibly "shameful" to their butts, genitals and/or mouths? Won't they just figure it out when pee burns, ulcers ooze or organs fail of their own volition? Word. That's almost as brave as leaving an anonymous homophobic comment on YouTube. Unfortunately, you have to tell former partners that you may have exposed them to a sexually transmitted disease, ideally in person.
Here's how to discuss STDs with an ex-partner:
1. Become an expert on your ailment. Your doctor likely gave you a pamphlet, memorize it. Visit WebMD and figure out the stats. For instance, 79 million Americans are said to have HPV and many of them are asymptomatic and may not know they have it.
2. Make a list of anyone you may have slept with (or had any sexual contact) in the past several years, even if there were no genital-to-bare skin contact that you can recall. Savor those awesome experiences if you're in a mind space to do so. Keep the list private, like Donatella Versace might with her list of enemies.
3. Don't spend time trying to figure out the vector, necessarily. You're probably spectacularly angry that you may have acquired something that could stick with you the rest of your life (like a story about pooping your pants that time you tried ecstasy). You have to tell everyone in your list and the person who passed it to you. Best-case scenario: The person who dealt it hasn't felt it. Worst-case scenario: That person is the kind of coward you could never let yourself be. You'll have plenty of time to be bitter, but let's get through the work before this bug gets lathered on another person's junk.
4. Work backward through your list. If your symptoms are just appearing, there is a chance that anyone you may have infected haven't passed the ailment to another bed buddy. ACT FAST. There is a gonorrhea strain that is largely immune to antibiotics and a few people may wanna avoid it if that's what you got.
5. Meeting in person is not a must. But you should at least talk over the phone. Yes, there are good apps to spread the word anonymously, dontspreadit.com and stdcheck.com, to name a few, but you're better off having the kind of conversation that makes most breakups look like a conversation about El Nino. This conversation DOES not mean the person should not alert his past sexual partners as, frankly, they may be asymptomatic. If you just don't have the guts to do it in person, use one of the anonymous services as soon as possible. It'll be interesting to see if that partner reaches out to you in person (or at all) after being tested.
6. Don't repeat "it's not a big deal." Feel free to apologize but don't be a punching bag; ideally, you didn't know this happened. You probably shouldn't involve alcohol. Also, don't do it again for old time's sake. Stay focused.
7. Advocate swift medical action. Have the facts that you've memorized from your pamphlet on hand and suggest a website for your former partner to checkout (your best bets are likely CDC.gov and WebMD). A friend offered to fund test as his partner did not have insurance; it's a nice gesture but you're not obligated to.
8. It's going to get more uncomfortable. For your own piece of mind, I'd recommend a follow-up in a week or 10 days to check the results or to further suggest testing. There are at-home testing kits for a number of these maladies; I can't speak to their effectiveness.
9. Relax. Yes, acts of love, passion and intimacy are incredibly emotional and it can be humiliating to discover this private thing has changed your life. While you could possibly be sued by some maniac; it's unlikely. Per STDTestExpress, 25 percent of Americans will contract a humping disease; allegedly 25 percent of Americans think god plays a roll in sports outcomes if you'd like a fun comparison.
Listen, the bottom line is that if you're sexually active you run the risk of picking something up; your responsibility is to protect yourself, your partner and, to some extent, your former partners from the consequences of rotten luck to the best of your ability. And, if you think that sending them the Venereagram video may soften the blow, tell ‘em you think the cowboy was the funniest part.