Health Conditions

STI Testing: Conversation Starters

Man and woman hugging and smiling.

It might be hard to talk to a partner about getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — but it’s important to have the conversation. Chances are your partner will be glad you brought it up.

Talk before you have sex.

You can say:

  • “Let’s get tested before we have sex. That way we can look out for each other."
  • “Many people who have an STI don't know it. Why take a chance when we can know for sure?”

There are other things you may want to talk to a sex partner about. For example:

  • Sexual history — like what type of protection you usually use (for example, condoms or dental dams) or the last time you got tested for STIs (including HIV)
  • Risk factors — like whether you’ve had sex without a condom or used drugs with needles

Share the facts.

You can say:

  • “Most STIs are easy to treat. And when they’re treated early, STIs are less likely to cause long-term health problems.”
  • “STI tests are quick, simple, and usually painless. For example, rapid HIV tests can provide results from just a swab inside the mouth in only 20 minutes."
  • "If you want to get tested at home, you can get an HIV home test or self-testing kits for other STIs."
  • "If you don't feel comfortable talking about STIs with your regular doctor, you can get tested at a clinic instead." 

Show that you care.

You can say:

  • “I really care about you. I want to make sure we're both healthy.”
  • “I've been tested for STIs, including HIV. Are you willing to do that, too?”
  • “Let’s get tested together.”

Agree to stay safe.

You can say:

  • “If we’re going to have sex, using condoms is a good way to protect us both from STIs. Let’s use condoms every time we have sex.”
  • “We can enjoy sex more if we know it’s safe.”

Content last updated December 19, 2023

Reviewer Information

This information on getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases was adapted from materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reviewed by:

Salina Smith
Health Communications Specialist
Division of STD Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

For more information about STI testing and prevention, check out: