Does Having An STI Mean The End Of A Relationship?

Many strong responses came out of our post "Do I Tell My Friend The Guy He's Interested In Is HIV+?" Not only responses, but there were also questions that came form that personal dilemma.  Many said it is 2017 and dating someone with HIV is very different than in the '90s or even a decade ago.  HIV isn't a relationship deal-breaker.  Or is it?


A recent study was carried out to better understand how having an STI would affect a relationship.  It surveyed 1,693 people; 1,017 were from the United States and 676 were from the United Kingdom. The group included 775 women and 918 men. The new study reveals which infections won't end your relationship and those that can create love-obstacles.

Some highlights of the study were:

  • Half of women and almost a third of men say HIV/AIDS wouldn’t change their commitment to you
  • People who HAVE had an STI are less likely to break up
  • Chlamydia is the most socially accepted STI; over 90% of women would still love you
  • Non-hetero lovers are the most committed demographic; 77% say an STI wouldn’t kill the relationship


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Almost 44 percent of those we surveyed said that they would break up with a partner who had previously contracted an STI. On the other hand, the good news is that more than half, roughly 56 percent, said they would stand by a partner with an STI.

Nearly 30 percent of men and women surveyed also told us they participate in anal sex. While it is still possible to contract an STI through anal sex, not all infections contracted via anal sex can be detected by regular STI testing. STIs are also increasing in other groups. Between 2014 and 2015, rates of syphilis among men who had sex with men were up 18 percent, and rates of gonorrhoea were up 21 percent. 

Not all perceptions around STIs are equal. The way men and women react to finding out that a partner has a sexually transmitted infection varies based on the severity and stigma of the disease.



By far, the disease that people were least likely to stay in a relationship with was HIV/AIDS. Over 70 percent of men said that they would end a relationship if they found out their partner had either. Women, too, were more likely to leave the relationship, but significantly less so. Just over 50 percent of women said they would leave a partner who had HIV or AIDS, which was slightly more than the number of women who would leave a partner infected with hepatitis or trichomonas.

Genital herpes also had a high rate of ending relationships. Over 45 percent of men and almost 43 percent of women said that herpes was a deal breaker for them. Despite ample treatment options and frequently mild symptoms, the negative stigma around herpes can be the end of a budding romance. Perhaps this is due to the general understanding that herpes is a lifelong ailment.

One of the most accepted STIs was Chlamydia, with over 80 percent of men and over 90 percent women saying they would stay in a relationship with someone who had the disease. Chlamydia also happens to be the most commonly diagnosed STI in the U.K.



We sorted our survey results by various demographics and averaged the breakups across three STIs: syphilis, gonorrhoea, and Chlamydia. Of those, we found that the highest breakup rates (nearly 47 percent) were with people who did not have an STI themselves. Fear of contracting the disease or lack of understanding the symptoms may contribute to this unwillingness to compromise.

Respondents in the U.K. were about 7 percent more likely to say goodbye to a partner with an STI than those in the U.S. The least likely demographic to leave a relationship were non-heterosexual partners. Those who already have had an STI themselves averaged roughly the same likelihood of breaking up as most other demographics, at just under 27 percent. –


For all of the results and info, head over to

What do you think of these results? 

Facts are facts, people are people, and opinions are opinions. 

Where would you land on this survey?





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