Ask Aunt Poly is an advice column. While it is meant to offer genuine, helpful advice, Aunt Poly has no degree in this area, and is not a professional. She will offer her opinions and advice, as well as those of her staff. Please use your own best judgement when considering advice given here. Before submitting any letters to Aunt Poly, please make sure that you read the official disclaimer regarding this advice column.

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Dear Aunt Poly,

When a group asks that you get "the complete battery" of STD tests before having sex with someone in the group, exactly what does this mean? What should it mean?

Also: is it good etiquette to show the test-results paperwork before being asked for it, or to wait until asked?

Mr. Careful

Dear Mr. Careful,

Aunt Poly is delighted you have asked such important questions.

15 million people contract an STD each year in the U.S. and one person in four will contract an STD in their lifetime. Despite these risks, people continue to engage new sex partners without getting tested. Being forthcoming with your intended partners is always the best way to begin any relationship as good honest communication creates the very best of foundations.

Before engaging in ANY sexual contact including swapping spit you NEED to know your partner is clean. The old song .. "Getting to Know you"... is relevant here.

A "complete battery" of tests should include Herpes, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV-1 & HIV2, Hepatitis “B” & "C" and Syphilis.

As far as etiquette for “when” to present results, Aunt Poly seriously doubts that walking around with your test results pinned to your shirt is a workable solution. However, Aunt Poly does feel one should be fairly forth coming in the early stages of the relationship. It is always prudent to share the negative as well as any positive results.

Aunt Poly

Aunt Poly can be reached here, at her Polyamorous Percolations email address.