Stop HIV & hep C now:

Let’s talk about you, me, and testing for HIV with new partners

By Andrea Arscott, Columnist

So, you’ve been dating this girl for a couple of weeks now, and you want to invite her over to your place because she’s adorable, and all you can think about is how great it would be to cuddle her instead of your cat. But you’re worried she might get the wrong idea and think you’re trying to seduce her in your man-cave. You wonder how you can ease her mind, but at the same time, you’re not even sure you can keep your King Kong paws off the little lady. You contemplate your options: make a mess of the bedroom, so that you wouldn’t dare take her in there; work out beforehand, so that you smell, and she’ll be forced to push you away; or talk to her about it before inviting her over.

If you choose option number three, you’re probably on the right track to getting laid down the road. And while you’re on the subject of not wanting to have sex so early in your relationship, you might as well bring up testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—it’s the perfect opportunity. Even better, get tested first, so you can chat about it without cornering her and asking if she’s been tested lately. When you’re considering having sex with new partners, it’s always good to be positive you’re HIV-negative by having a blood test.

During the two weeks you’re waiting for your results, take your sweetheart out for a picnic or a hike and tell her you like where things are going in terms of your relationship (if that’s how you feel). You might say that you were thinking ahead and decided to get tested for HIV and other STIs in case things progress. You could also explain that her health is important to you, so you wanted to be sure you didn’t have any illness that you could pass on to her. Then, ask if she’s been tested recently and if she’d be willing to get tested too.

At that point, you can feel her out (no pun intended) by saying that you’d love to invite her over to watch a movie, but you worry she won’t be able to keep her hands off you. Let her know that you’re waiting for your test results and don’t want to be led into temptation. By having this conversation, you’ll make her feel more comfortable because she wasn’t the one who had to bring it up, and you’ll likely be more open and honest with each other.

Before getting tested, think about when you last engaged in a risky activity and consider the one- to six-month window period for HIV to figure out when to have the test. Also, be specific, and ask the doctor or nurse to test for HIV, all STIs (including genital herpes and genital warts), and hep C. They may need to collect a urine sample and/or examine you for physical signs of STIs in addition to taking the blood sample.

Now that you’ve been tested, wrap it up! Unfortunately, people lie and cheat, so the only way to protect yourself is to take responsibility and control your behaviour. Get tested. Wear a condom.

To get tested for hep C, HIV, and other STIs, make an appointment at the New Westminster Health Unit by calling 604-777-6740. Ask for free condoms or come down to the Purpose Society at 40 Begbie Street to get some! You can also get your questions answered by emailing