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A couple smiling at each other, woman touching man's neck.Are you in a relationship? Have you already had a conversation with your partner about their sexual health? Have you seen their test results? Better yet, have you gone to get tested together?

READ: 15 Shocking Symptoms Of HIV

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Blacks currently account for about half (49%) of the people who get HIV and AIDS, although they comprise 14% of the US population.  Because women are at a particularly high risk of contracting this disease, it’s extremely important for them to have sex health conversations with their partners…as uncomfortable as the topic may be.

How can a woman begin a sexual health conversation with someone she’s just started dating?

READ: Is It True Men Can’t Get HIV From Women?

Having the conversation about STDs and getting tested while dating should be brought up just as easily as the conversation about careers, marriage and the plan for children. Women engaging in sexual activity while dating need to also start planning for their sexual future, just like they would plan everything else in the future.

In reality, the best time to start this dialogue about sexually transmitted diseases and infections is in the beginning of the relationship before any sexual activity ever occurs. Women often make the mistake of having one of the most important conversations in a relationship well after there is an emotional attachment and when it is easier to therefore compromise on their beliefs.

A lot of women get infected while in a serious relationship. What are the best things a woman can go in a serious relationship/marriage to stay safe and healthy?

VIEW: Black Celebrities Who’ve Died From AIDS

Whether married, in a serious relationship, or in a casual relationship, women having sex are at risk of contracting HIV. Some of the most important steps to take in protecting yourself from HIV is to first of all know YOUR status. Make sure you are getting tested at least once a year or more depending on the number of sexual encounters. Next, make sure you know THEIR status. Have an open dialogue with your sexual partners before you engage in sexual activity and don’t be afraid to ask for proof. Lastly, be sure to take protection in your own hands. Sometimes women leave the responsibility of carrying condoms up to the man, but you can always be proactive about your sexual health and carry condoms yourself.

Why are black women afraid to be more vocal about HIV testing in relationships?

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