Testing Together

yay-2872303-001It’s probably no surprise that within the first couple of months, and sometimes first few weeks, of new relationships that couples will often stop using condoms.

When you think about having trust in a relationship, this makes sense.  “He must know his HIV status.”, “I’m sure he would be honest about his sexual past and he’d tell me the last time he tested”, “He wouldn’t put me at risk.”

Before really discussing where you want to take this relationship and talking about safe sex, condoms might already be taken out of the picture.

Although we might have intuition and good judge of character, the fact is, we might know jack-squat about the person and the only way someone can know if they are HIV positive or not is to get tested.

If new couples are thinking about not using condoms, there is a bit more to consider. It really takes being open and honest with each other about what you want and expect from the relationship and where you see it going.  Is it a closed or open relationship, what are our rules if we play with other people, what if things change down the track?

If couples are starting to think about not using condoms, there is a formula they can follow; Talk, Test, Test, Trust. Although not everyone likes to use formulas through their daily life, the idea is straight forward.

It all starts with talking things over with your partner. Relationships can change at any time and when things don’t get discussed openly and honestly is when problems come up.

If a couple decides together that they want to stop using condoms, the next step is to agree to get tested together; an initial test and then a follow-up test in three months time. Remember to use condoms between tests.

After the follow up test, if both guys are HIV negative and neither has put themselves at risk, then they can both be sure they are HIV negative. Then, if they choose, they can stop using condoms. But the commitment doesn’t stop there.

If, for whatever reason, one of you has unsafe sex with someone else, you will need to start using condoms again, and probably restart ‘Talk, Test, Test, Trust’.

For those who find it a challenge to have these kinds of discussions with their partner, the WA AIDS Council offers counselling for couples.

If you and your partner would like more information on testing together or where you can get tested for HIV and STI’s, go to itest.org.au or contact the M Clinic (for men who have sex with men) at (08) 9227 0734.

Tony Bober
WA AIDS Council

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