Being diagnosed with an STI can be a troubling experience in and of itself, but often it’s the thought of telling a current and/or former sexual partners that they might also be at risk that’s an even greater source of anxiety.
For some people, it might be the fear of being judged or shamed for their actions. Others might have reason to believe their partner or their ex would react in a more extreme or threatening way.
That’s where the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre’s Let Them Know service comes in.
The website allows people who have been diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, mycoplasma genitalium, syphilis and trichomonas to anonymously notify their partner(s) via email, text or a letter.
Watch: Mamamia staff discuss whether cheating is physical or emotional. (Post continues after video.)
As you might imagine, it would be difficult to send a message without any indication of identity these days — IP addresses, phone numbers and even the ol’ postage stamp can all give some inkling. So this is pretty game-changing.
Before they proceed, Let Them Know users are reminded that most people would prefer to be informed of possible STI exposure in person.
They’re also encouraged to consider whether this is the most appropriate mode of communication and whether the message could possibly be read by a third party.
However, the anonymous option could give certain people the confidence and security they in order to need to take this step.
"Some people may react badly to being told they are at risk of an STI. If you think one of your partners could become abusive on hearing this news, do not tell them yourself," the website states.
"Instead, use our anonymous email, SMS or letter or ask your doctor." (Post continues after gallery.)
Contraception options and the protection they offer.
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Notifying former partners of an STI diagnosis is an important, if kind of uncomfortable, process. It gives partners the opportunity to get tested themself, which could lead to early diagnosis and treatment, and can also help stop the spread of the infection within the wider community.
There's absolutely no shame in contracting an STI, and anybody should feel empowered to seek the treatment they need and inform people who have possibly been exposed.
Generally speaking, however, it's vital to practice sex and use contraceptive methods that protect from STIs and not just pregnancy.
Have you ever had to notify former partners of STI risk?