Ethical Question - Should I Tell Her That He Has An STD?

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  1. Inspirepub profile image74
    Inspirepubposted 14 years ago

    OK, seeking a full cross-section of advice here.

    The situation:

    The couple in question have been having unprotected sex for a couple of years. I happen to know that he has found blisters on his "manhood" a couple of times recently, and that he hasn't told her about it. They continue to have unprotected sex.

    Now, one minor complication is that he has been tested for STDs six months ago and came up OK - but in his part of the world they don't test for herpes. Something to do with it being "not serious", perhaps because it doesn't kill you or make you sterile. Not sure what the reasoning is. But they don't test for it.

    So, it is possible that she wouldn't worry all that much even if he DID have herpes. But I would expect that if you are having unprotected sex with someone, they would tell you when things like this happen.

    Obviously, he should tell her, but I can't MAKE him tell her.

    Do I just do a Sergeant Schultz ("I know nothing ...")?

    Or do I have any moral or ethical obligation to tell her myself?

    I am not a doctor, therapist, etc, with a duty of confidentiality. I am just a friend.

    Thoughts, anyone?


    1. Lady_E profile image64
      Lady_Eposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      If someone stands the risk of having a serious health problem, its best you inform them.

      1. Inspirepub profile image74
        Inspirepubposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        Well, if HE doesn't think it's serious, perhaps she wouldn't either. It seems weird to me, but cultural differences are cultural differences, and it is the God's honest truth that STD clinics in that country (Sweden) don't test for herpes at all.


        1. illminatus profile image69
          illminatusposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          How do you know her? Your allegiance always lies with your friend no matter what the circumstances.

          1. Inspirepub profile image74
            Inspirepubposted 14 years agoin reply to this

            I only know her vaguely - I am his friend, not so much hers.


            1. darkside profile image68
              darksideposted 14 years agoin reply to this

              I'd be driving it home to him then.

              Maybe find a news story that involves a woman castrating a man for not telling her about his herpes until after she finds out she had it.

              And if you can't find one, tell him that that is what you expect to see in the news soon with his name mentioned as the bold print.

              1. Dale Mazurek profile image62
                Dale Mazurekposted 14 years agoin reply to this

                Bar none the best answer so far.  All he is doing is setting himself up for possibly very difficult times ahead.

              2. Eaglekiwi profile image76
                Eaglekiwiposted 14 years agoin reply to this

                Yea I agree with DS method
                Tell them and drive it home.

                Reminds me of a friend I had once who was worried about hearing her neighbours fighting and screaming at the kids ,ocassionally there would be crying as someone would get slapped or hit .
                She asked me what should I do?

                I said well you can tell me ,talk to her , or call the authorities ,or do nothing , and wait til she kills one of the kids.

                I dont say that to make you feel bad Jenny ,because Ive read your posts and you sound very level headed and sensible, but sometimes real friendship means saying and doing the hard stuff too.
                To Your best life -ekiwi  smile

    2. IntimatEvolution profile image69
      IntimatEvolutionposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        I don't think it is any of YOUR business.  She's the stupid one for having unprotected sex.  That's her problem, and besides really you have no business telling someone else something like that.  AIDS is one thing- but come on here- bud out before you wished you had.

    3. profile image0
      sandra rinckposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      hmmm... that's a tough call.  I know that not all "pimple like" sores that arise on the genitalia are herpes.

      Considering he had been checked for STDs and was clean regardless of the herpes test. 

      It would seem that she would know by know whether or not it was transmittable.

      Might be dangerous to but in. Unless of course you friend told you this in confidence that he wasn't sure about what it was, you might consider he got it from her.

      Just a thought. big_smile

  2. earnestshub profile image82
    earnestshubposted 14 years ago

    Tell her Jenny. Herped can be an awful thing, and any STD at all should be reported to potential partners.

  3. ethel smith profile image82
    ethel smithposted 14 years ago

    I think Jenny that an important fact here is HOW you know. This could be the decider of whether or not it is right to let her know.

    1. Inspirepub profile image74
      Inspirepubposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      He told me ... which begs the question - how else would I know?


      1. ngureco profile image81
        ngurecoposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        He told you such top secrets but he can not tell his wife? Many question marks. Keep off.

        Or tell him to organise with a doctor who will pretend is treating them for a different disease but the doctor will actually treat herps without her (wife) realizing.

        1. Inspirepub profile image74
          Inspirepubposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          There is no cure for herpes - once you have it, you have it for life. You are not always contagious, but it never goes away.


          1. ngureco profile image81
            ngurecoposted 14 years agoin reply to this

            Thank you, Inspirepub, for educating me. I did not know that genital and oral herpes are only manageable and not curable. 

            That being the case and the fact the couple have been having unprotected s*x then it’s very likely the lady also has herpes. I think what you can do is to try and educate the guy so that both can share together in managing the disease. If you can't make him tell her, then tell the lady and whatever happens let it happen.

  4. gamergirl profile image87
    gamergirlposted 14 years ago

    What a terrible situation.

    Without a doubt, talk to your friend first, but if he seems unwilling to disclose his *ahem* findings to his partner, then tell her yourself.  Let her know that she should get tested, and to get the full battery of tests.

    Shame on all of you who would try to reason that since the woman is not Jenny's friend she shouldn't say anything.  If Jenny's talking to the woman could save the poor girl from getting an STD, then good!

    Let the relationship work itself out, but if your buddy is banging her without telling her he might have an STD, he's scummy.

  5. Inspirepub profile image74
    Inspirepubposted 14 years ago

    Well, the thing is that he genuinely doesn't think herpes is a big deal. Genuinely. Can't understand why people make a fuss about it. They don't even treat it with antivirals where he lives. They don't test for it, except in pregnant women, because it can cause problems if it crosses to the baby at birth.

    And maybe she would feel the same. I can't know for sure.


    1. Misha profile image65
      Mishaposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      I guess so Jenny smile Relax and have fun I would say smile

      Chances are she has it too, and knows this smile

  6. profile image0
    SirDentposted 14 years ago

    She definitely needs to know. Herpes is serious even though many think it is not. She has a right to know who she is having sex with also. He refuses to tell her which makes him dishonest.

  7. Dame Scribe profile image58
    Dame Scribeposted 14 years ago

    I would say to him ...if you want to risk losing her when she finds out on her own ...tell her then or now hmm

  8. Typhoon profile image65
    Typhoonposted 14 years ago

    Are there places in the world that do test for herpes generally when you go in for std checkups without specifically asking?

    Like 90% of the world already has it somewhere. Cold sores on the lips, etc... that stuff all gives you a positive result & can transmit it anywhere else. Even having had chicken pox will give you a positive depending on the test you do. Even down there it's not a disease you only pick up from sex either... lots of people get it from wrestling, fooling around on the beach, all kinds of stuff.

    Unprotected sex for years though, she probably already has it. And if your friend told you this out of concern, she probably gave it to him. Symptoms usually show up pretty quick

    1. ngureco profile image81
      ngurecoposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Here is the secret weapon for your friend from Typhoon - lots of people, himself included, get it from wrestling, fooling around on the beach, all kinds of stuff.

      1. Eaglekiwi profile image76
        Eaglekiwiposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        you mean lie about?

        1. ngureco profile image81
          ngurecoposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          That's right. To save the relationship/marriage (and the  children if they have any).

          1. Eaglekiwi profile image76
            Eaglekiwiposted 14 years agoin reply to this

            Guess its an individuals call based on their own ethical code. (or not)

      2. Inspirepub profile image74
        Inspirepubposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        Er, not really.

        HSV type 2 is the sexually transmitted one. HSV type 1 is cold sores, and you can get cold sores on your genitals from having oral sex with someone who has a cold sore, but it is a different disease.

        You only get HSV type 2 from genital contact. No secret weapon.


        1. Typhoon profile image65
          Typhoonposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          They're both practically the same disease in almost everything but the name. Contagious in the same areas, symptoms, problems with childbirth, etc.

          Any contact above the knees can transmit it to that area. Ever have a zit on your legs? You could have & give Herpes! Either variety. Touching your own lips then rubbing your leg can give it to yourself, even if you don't have any sores showing at the time or were lucky enough to never know you were even a carrier. It doesn't have to be genitals at all. Please talk to doctors before you try to involve yourself in someone else's life smile

        2. Isabella Snow profile image86
          Isabella Snowposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          HSV-2 can be acquired via orogenital contact, which is why it can show up in the mouth. Conversely, it can also be transmitted via the mouth, also though this is not particularly common, especially in those who already have one form of HSV, which often provides some measure of immunity against the other. But this type of transmission is not impossible.

          It is also pretty difficult to just randomly test for, and I've never heard of any standardized battery of STD testing including HSV2 or HSV1, as you typically need symptoms present in order to test. And if you've got symptoms when you go in and get your swab, the results are pretty much only verification of what any good clinician would have already diagnosed by simple observation.

          There are a few other methods of testing but they tend to either be disproportionately risky or not nearly accurate enough to warrant using them unless someone needs it for a differential or summat similar.

          Also, women can have genital herpes outbreaks and never see them, for (hopefully) obvious reasons. It all depends on where the outbreak occurs. Loads of women have herpes and haven't a clue, particularly since it can be latent for long periods of time.

          Of course, neither HSV strain is usually considered to be a health threat, but if the woman in question is pregnant or becomes pregnant, this would become an issue for childbirth and under those circumstances I would think it prudent to have a talk with her.

          All of this said, unless he's had a clinician look at his "blister", all he can do is guess what he's got and few people are actually good at self-diagnosis. There are other things which can cause blisters in that area, and he may not have an STD at all.

  9. AEvans profile image73
    AEvansposted 14 years ago

    Jenny, How would you know if he has had blisters on his "manhood"? Did she say something or did he say something? If he said something, then he needs to tell her, it is not your place but his place to tell and you should insist that he discusses this with her as she may not know. If he chooses not to and seemingly since you are involved at that point it would be your place to let her know. smile

    1. Inspirepub profile image74
      Inspirepubposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      He told me. And I asked him if had told her, and he said he hadn't.


  10. trish1048 profile image68
    trish1048posted 14 years ago


    Why wouldn't you?  Are you afraid to lose his friendship?  Personally, to me, he doesn't sound like an honest person.  Does the girlfrient/wife(?) know he was tested six months previously?  And if so, wouldn't she know that he's seemingly concerned about having herpes?  Why would anyone withhold that information?  He sounds like a dishonest person to me.
    At the risk of losing his friendship, I would tell her.  She can think what she likes, such as thinking you slept with him and that's how you know, because I doubt she would believe you anyway.
    If he gets mad if/when you do tell her and decides he hates you for doing it, so be it.  Then he wasn't really a friend.

    1. Inspirepub profile image74
      Inspirepubposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Well, I wouldn't because I generally as an ethical principle let people make their own mistakes in relationships. I will let them know what I think is a good idea or a bad idea, but then I will let them make their own decision and learn from the consequences.

      I generally won't step in and take action that they should be taking. I learned long ago that helps nobody in the long run.

      And in this case, I am not sure that it would be a big deal to her, although I suspect that most people having unprotected sex would expect immediate disclosure of any new symptoms, so that as a couple they can decide whether to go back to condoms for a while.

      She is at risk in a way that she doesn't know about, and she may want to know - but she may genuinely not care. I don't know her well enough to know whether she would care or not.


      1. Misha profile image65
        Mishaposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        It she would - see your second para. If she won't - why bother at all? wink

        1. Inspirepub profile image74
          Inspirepubposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          You are a paragon of wisdom, Mishenka.


          Life would be so much easier if people just did what they were supposed to do, lol. (That being, of course, whatever makes me happy ... smile)


      2. trish1048 profile image68
        trish1048posted 14 years agoin reply to this

        I feel you are enabling your friend's behavior.  How is it fair that you and your friend know, but the girl in question does not?  Whether she believes you or not does not matter, she can tell you to get lost, or act on the side of caution and get checked.  I would also tell your friend that you are going to tell the girl whether it's your place or not.  We're not talking about poison ivy here.  Just how ethical is it for him to withhold the information?  If he chooses to disown you as a friend, that's on him.
        If someone ever came to me with this information, I'd be getting checked to make sure I'm safe.  Just my opinion.

  11. Misha profile image65
    Mishaposted 14 years ago

    LOL Why, thank you. smile

    For some reason I suspect you would give me a similar answer if I ask a similar question. I guess it's all about being in a position to look at the situation from the outside. smile

  12. Inspirepub profile image74
    Inspirepubposted 14 years ago

    Well, I always like to check whether there is a higher ethical principle at stake than the one I am currently seeing.

    For example, if I knew for sure, and it was HIV rather than herpes, then saving a human life would enter the picture, and that would probably trump my more general "don't interfere in the learning process" principle.

    And, given that I have an emotional attachment to him and don't want him to be mad at me, I also wanted to check whether that was actually changing my approach. But in this case I think I would make the same decision even if she was my friend and he wasn't.

    I will at some point tell him that I think it's a mistake to keep it from her, though.


    1. ngureco profile image81
      ngurecoposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Also provide him with an exit route from blame – that the disease can be transmitted through such things like wrestling, fooling around on the beach, etc, etc, because that way he can easily be able to maneuver how to tell the “sad” news to her.

      1. Inspirepub profile image74
        Inspirepubposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        I don't think that would work on a woman with an IQ over 80 ... smile

        1. ngureco profile image81
          ngurecoposted 14 years agoin reply to this

          There is a possibility this disease may be originating from his partner/wife.

          1. Inspirepub profile image74
            Inspirepubposted 14 years agoin reply to this

            Yes, there is.

            In which case she doesn't need any help from me ... smile


            1. ngureco profile image81
              ngurecoposted 14 years agoin reply to this

              And that is exactly what that guy would want to hear to be able to solve his problem.

  13. Anti-Valentine profile image76
    Anti-Valentineposted 14 years ago

    You can tell her but you can be sure that she will tell him that you told her, and that will cause tensions between you and your friend.

    Maybe you should tip her off anonymously, by letter or something. Maybe you could type up a pamphlet dealing with herpes and send it to her if you know her address. Then, if she has any brain at all, she would be able to recognize the symptoms of the disease (from pictures that you'll include), and confront him about it.

    "Coincidences" like this happen all the time. big_smile

  14. Mighty Mom profile image78
    Mighty Momposted 14 years ago

    Ngureco beat me to the punch on this one.
    How do we know he didn't catch herpes from her? We don't.

    I agree with others (and you) that it is not your place to say anything to the woman involved. The friendship is between you and the man. You can prevail on him to "do the right thing" and tell his partner. But it's not really your business what they do in the bedroom, whether it's protected or unprotected or whether either of them is bringing potential viruses into the bed. If he has asked for your advice, give it. If he doesn't want to hear it, drop it.

    I assume they are both consenting adults. They are willingly engaging in unprotected sex. Both must know the risks -- that when you do that you are basically sleeping with everyone the other person ever slept with. Herpes could have come from either side... maybe she's having symptoms also and not telling him!

    Herpes is an annoyance, yes. It is treatable (although it sounds like in Sweden they don't treat it).

    Good luck. MM

  15. Eaglekiwi profile image76
    Eaglekiwiposted 14 years ago

    Jenny if hes a friend ,just be straight up with him , that is of course depending how you really feel about the matter.

    Im a bit confused how you know him well ,but not somehow able to talk to his partenar ( or feel comfortable too).

    I guess really if that is the barrier ,then you wont be talking to her.

    Problem solved ,for you anyways.

  16. profile image0
    iamqweenbeeposted 14 years ago

    The two questions that come to mind are...

    1. How would you know?
    2. If you know, why wouldn't she know if she is sleeping with him?
    Number two will be the deciding factor if I would tell or not.

  17. secondreview profile image60
    secondreviewposted 14 years ago

    You may want to remind your friend that when she finds out, she 's going to be mad, possibly destructive and unforgiving.  Herpes is a nasty thing to live with and can be passed on to newborns.  Hell hath no fury like a woman infected.

  18. dineane profile image71
    dineaneposted 14 years ago

    Just give the link to this thread to your friend with an "I don't know how to handle this information" explanation. Maybe that would open up the conversation between the two of you a little more, and you can actually help him strategize and prepare himself to discuss this with his partner....or, he can assure you that she really wouldn't care, or that he suspects he got it from her, or whatever else he might come up with that makes you feel better.

    I don't recommend telling her - sounds like you don't know her very well, and your friendship is more valuable to you than this supposed ethical responsibility. But it is bothering *you*, and potentially harming your friendship, so it seems to me you need to discuss this in more detail with your friend.

  19. tickledpear profile image60
    tickledpearposted 14 years ago

    Jenny, I think you should talk to him first. However if he continues to refuse to tell her, then you should. Sometimes you have to be the bearer of bad news. Besides, the end can't be pleasant if she caught the STD as well and finding out that he lied to her all this time. Good luck.

  20. darkside profile image68
    darksideposted 14 years ago

    Here's a site I saw advertised on television tonight:

    Maybe set that as your friends browser homepage wink


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