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by Abigail Van Buren

Widow Ready to Date Again Is Unsure About Sex

DEAR ABBY: I'm a widow of two years who is taking my first steps getting back out there into the dating world. The dating sites scare me for lots of reasons. My biggest concern is the sexual part of dating. How do you know if the person is healthy? Do you ask if they have been tested lately, or ever? Should I have to ask if they have protection?

I'm way past getting pregnant, but I don't want any surprises either. I do plan on getting to know the man before I get to the romantic part, but would like to know how to address my concerns. -- READY TO MOVE FORWARD

DEAR READY: You are a wise lady. According to the Centers for Disease Control, STDs like herpes, gonorrhea, hepatitis B and trichomoniasis are spreading like wildfire. In 2017, nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported in the United States. You should also be aware that 1 in 6 new cases of HIV diagnosed were among people over the age of 50.

This is why, before getting to the "romantic part," it is imperative you have a frank, honest, open discussion about sexually transmitted diseases and to refrain from having unprotected sexual contact unless you and your partner are in an exclusive relationship and you both have been tested, preferably together.

Read more in: Love & Dating | Death | Sex & Gender