My Man Refuses to Take an HIV Test

Ask Demetria: Five ways to get him to a screening. Because your health isn't worth the risk.

Posted:
 
exam20room400
Thinkstock

My partner refuses to take an HIV test. He says he hasn't cheated and he's clean, so he doesn't see the point. I never thought he was unfaithful but now wonder if he has something to hide. It would make me more comfortable if I knew his results since I know mine. How do I get him to get tested? --A.K.

There's a popular Arab proverb that goes, "Trust in Allah, and guard your camel." It has many meanings, one of which is, loosely, "Have faith, but don't be stupid." Apply this philosophy to your relationship and keep insisting that your partner get tested.

We all want to believe the best about our partners, that they wouldn't possibly cheat, but studies estimate that 50 percent of married men and 45 percent of married women do cheat on their spouses (the numbers for people "just" in relationships are likely higher). And it's not as if all these cheating people confess when confronted like a cornered criminal in Law & Order. Additionally, if your partner hasn't been tested, then there is no way he can know his status. He's guessing and hoping for the best and, essentially, asking you to do the same -- which is bad business.

Here's why: African Americans are the racial-ethnic group most affected by HIV. We make up less than 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for 44 percent of all new HIV infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. AIDS is now the leading cause of death for African-American women ages 25-34, and 85 percent of black women with HIV acquired the virus through heterosexual sex.

In order to get him to get tested, you're going to have to work around his fear. "Getting men to willingly submit to HIV testing is very difficult," says Alduan Tartt, Ph.D., psychologist and author of The Ring Formula: How to Be the Only One He Ever Needs. "Men don't like to appear inadequate or flawed in any way because our adequacy is the core of our manhood and ego. We don't want to be told that something is wrong with us. We would rather suffer in silence and be in denial than for the doctor to confirm that we are sick, diseased or dying."

Now that you know what you're up against, here are five tips to get through it.

1. Empower your partner.

Let him know his HIV status isn't just about him. He has family and friends who rely on him, care about him and want the best for him. He is potentially putting them in jeopardy by not being informed about his health.

"Make it about the 'we' and not the 'I'," says Dr. Rachel Ross, a medical practitioner in Gary, Ind., and clinically trained sexologist. Often when women say to their partners, "I want you to get tested," it's misconstrued as an accusation about illness or infidelity. "If it's 'you, you, you' or 'I, I, I,' no one goes for it, and they end up being offended," adds Ross.

Instead, present your desire to get tested as a way to show that you both care enough about each other to learn the truth about your health, and you want all the cards on the clichéd table. Ross suggests framing the idea of getting tested as an attempt to renew, reinforce and recommit to your relationship.