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How Getting Tested Together Strengthened My Relationship

How Getting Tested Together Strengthened My Relationship

Hold yourselves accountable for each other's sexual health. It goes a long way. 

DMArtavia

Trust should always be the cornerstone of a good relationship, no matter how old you or your lover may be. Now that I’m in my 30s I have no time to waste asking questions. I’ve learned that the beginning should start by laying everything on the slab — sometimes literally.

I’m well versed and educated when it comes to STIs. So much so that I made an effort educating short-term lovers who came in my life about the importance of getting tested. But entering a long-term relationship required different types of conversations. Who has the time to talk about sexual health when there are bigger topics to discuss like life goals, non-negotiables, kids vs. dogs, west coast vs. east coast, and Nirvana vs. Coldplay? Getting tested together sets a relationship up for building a bigger picture, without the anxiety of STI stigma.

When I was single, getting tested every three to six months (as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) was a priority. I knew preventative tools like condoms and PrEP were important, but as a single man I was only acountable for myself. I was ok with that. That all changed when I met my boyfriend.

He didn’t know anything about my history, nor did I about his. We had sex the first night we met, which seemed to be normal for both of us. Neither of us expected to truly fall for each other. When we did, the conversation about sexual health became a bit pointless — we’d already had sex! Shouldn’t we have gotten tested before we exchanged fluids? Having casual sex didn’t stop us from thinking twice about our status before, so why should this?

That's when I realized the rules had changed. Though my boyfriend and I were accountable for our own health, we now had to consider the future of a monogamous relationship. It was more than about my sexual health. It was more than about his sexual health. It was about our sexual health.

We got tested the next week for free. We drew blood, got cotton swabbed, even completed our vaccines — meningitis, hep A, and hep B — all while the other was in the next room going through the same process. It was the first time I got tested alongside anyone I was dating, and I have to say this time felt different.

By the way, check out free STI testing clinics at GetTested.cdc.gov.

Admittedly, when I got tested as a single man I rarely thought about anyone else. At this point going into the clinic seemed routine and non-threatening, but going with my boyfriend put things into a new perspective. We were doing this for each other. It symbolized more than a routine checkup; it reflected accountability and respect moving forward.

Getting tested isn’t exactly a fun experience, so going with a friend or loved one can make it less anxious. Even if you don’t have a boyfriend, recruiting other people is always a good idea. More than the mental and emotional security it brings, it also has a giant effect on reducing new STI diagnoses across the country.

So many of us are scared to get tested because we’re afraid of testing positive for an STI. That fear becomes a heavy weight doing more harm than good overall. Trust me, it’s always best to rid yourself of unnecessary fear when starting a new relationship. For us, it jumpstarted new habits of honesty, accountability, and trust. Who doesn't want that? 

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David Artavia

David Artavia is the managing editor at The Advocate magazine and Plus magazines, as well as an editor Chill magazine and HollywoodHoller.com. Follow him on Facebook @TheDavidArtavia and Instagram: @DMArtavia.

David Artavia is the managing editor at The Advocate magazine and Plus magazines, as well as an editor Chill magazine and HollywoodHoller.com. Follow him on Facebook @TheDavidArtavia and Instagram: @DMArtavia.