men's sex life Prevention strategies

Telling your partners

Telling your partners if you test positive for an STBBI gives them the opportunity to get tested in turn, and to treat any infection they may have. A health professional can help you with this. You can also tell them anonymously using a website. Telling your partners reduces the risk that you’ll be reinfected later on. In the end, everyone wins!

Before telling a partner that you have an STBBI, think about how to say it and using what methods.

What should you say and how should you say it?

Telling your partners can be embarrassing or stressful, but above all, it’s a responsible act. If you were in their position, wouldn’t you want to be told? Even if it’s bad news, most people react well and appreciate that their partner told them.

Here are a few tips for talking with your partner:

  • Get straight to the point. For example: “I have gonorrhea. It’s a sexually transmitted infection. You might also be infected. When treated, gonorrhea is fully cured. The treatment is free. You can have gonorrhea without having any symptoms. You should get tested.”
  • Avoid blaming your partner. He might get angry or defensive, which will make the conversation harder. For example, avoid statements such as “You gave me chlamydia.”

Even though it’s bad news, your partner can now take care of his health thanks to the information you give him:

  • Tell him he can get an appointment more quickly if he mentions that you’ve told him about a possible STBBI.
  • Give him online references to consult, such as the Gouvernement du Québec website on STBBIs or the name of a clinic specializing in HIV and STBBIs.

Telling your partner in person may make it easier for them to hear the news, but this isn’t always possible. For your own reasons, you may prefer not to tell him in person, or maybe he just isn’t available. If that’s the case, remember that it’s better to tell him by other means than not at all.

What method should you use?

  • In person: Choose a calm and discreet place where you can speak without being disturbed.
  • By telephone: Check first to make sure he’s available and listening.
  • By text message or email: If you have his phone number, you can text him. If not, you can send him a message through the site or app where you met him (Grindr, Gay411, Manhunt, etc.).


Need help?

If you’re having trouble telling your partners:

  • A health professional can help. Sometimes, they may even be able to tell your partners for you without naming you. Talk to your doctor or nurse about it.
  • The community organization Portail VIH/sida du Québec can tell your partners by text message. It’s free, confidential and fast.


I Have an STBBI page from the When You Think About It website by the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux

As long as you’re having sex with men, get tested for HIV and other STIs at least once a year.