Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Friend Won’t Tell her New Guy about her STD”

I have a good friend who just started dating this guy. He has a good job and they seem to really like one another. Although they aren’t “official” yet, they are exclusively seeing one another. After her last relationship ended, my friend was diagnosed with an STD that she got from her ex-boyfriend. This STD has no cure and can easily be spread. When she and I were talking about her current guy, I asked if she had told him about her STD. She said no, and when I asked if she was going to, she also said no! She said she will be using condoms all the time and there is no need for him to know.

This isn’t some little secret about her life, like that she hooked up with a guy while studying abroad. This is a serious health issue that if he gets infected, would be a life long issue. Now I feel like I’m in a weird place. I have never met the guy and I can’t just Facebook message him and say “your girl has a serious STD,” because that’s not my place. But I also can’t knowingly let my friend put this guy’s health at risk. The STD isn’t HIV (which I would disregard all social morays and tell the guy about) and it won’t cause him to die if he gets it, but it will make his life harder.

So, what can I do? Should I insist that my friend tell him? Should I get our other two close girlfriends to talk to her with me? She is very immature and I think she is trying to pretend like it isn’t a big deal (it is.) I’m upset that she sees it as a non-issue when I remember how devastated she was when she was diagnosed. — Disappointed in Her


Well, you’re right here on several counts. First, your friend owes her current (and all future) sexual partner a fair warning about her STD. That she doesn’t seem at all concerned about divulging that piece of information is reckless at best and downright cruel and immoral at worst. But, you’re also right that it isn’t your place to tell the new boyfriend about your friend’s STD — not to his face, not through Facebook, and certainly not anonymously. Your best bet is to encourage your friend to have the conversation with him.

When you talk with your friend, remind her how devastated she was when she got the diagnosis. Withhold judgment and tell her that it would be out-of-character for her to act so immorally as to sleep with her boyfriend without warning him of the risks he faces, and that that’s not the person you know. Be supportive; tell her you know she must be embarrassed and scared, but that her STD isn’t something to be ashamed of. Putting someone at risk without warning him, however, is. Do your research so you have some facts and statistics to back up your argument that she is, indeed, putting him at risk and potentially making his life harder than it has to be. Try talking to her one-on-one first, but if she doesn’t seem to be taking you seriously, then enlist the help of your two close mutual friends — assuming they are privy to all the information in the story — to encourage her to do the right thing.

In the end, that’s the best you can do. It’s out of your hands after that. But your letter is a good reminder to everyone to ask all new partners whether they’ve been tested for STDs and what their status is. There’s no guarantee people will be honest, but at least by asking, you can start a necessary conversation that may otherwise have been swept under the rug until it was too late. LW, you may not be able to protect your friend’s new guy, but maybe you’ve protected a few readers out there today. I hope that counts for something.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

121 comments… add one
  • avatar

    honeybeenicki October 4, 2011, 8:15 am

    I agree with Wendy that your friend not telling her new boyfriend about her STD is reckless. I also agree that it is not your place to tell him. In addition to what Wendy mentioned, I recommend going to Planned Parenthood or a similar clinic if it is available (or even bringing your friend with) and getting information on
    a) The specific STD
    b) Contraceptives including condoms and their effective rate (condoms are not 100% effective, so she can still pass the STD on to him)
    c) Ways to bring this information up with the boyfriend. The counselors there are able to help her decide in what manner she can address this and how to deal with any fallout from telling him or any future partners. It is not 100% clear if she has already had sex with him, but if she has then this has the potential to ruin this new relationship because she didn’t tell him before.
    d) Information on making sure HE gets tested too – condoms or not.

    Also, I know you said it isn’t HIV, but just as an FYI to anyone else – in some states it is illegal to pass on HIV knowingly (ie: having sex with someone knowing you have HIV but not telling them). My friend’s dad has served 10 years on an attempted murder charge for having unprotected sex with someone while he knew he had HIV, which he passed to the other person.

    LW, in no circumstance is it fair or right to endanger someone’s health, especially with an incurable STD. Unfortunately, you cannot control your friends actions.

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    • fast eddie

      fast eddie October 4, 2011, 8:49 am

      In addition to everything else she could be sued by the guy for not telling him even if he doesn’t become infected. As a friend the LW should do what she can to protect her.

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      • katie

        katie October 4, 2011, 8:24 pm

        definitely- LW, you should look up the laws in your state that pertain to this, and maybe some federal laws… this could get her into real trouble, even if she doesnt pass along a death sentance like HIV

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        noggin.nik October 5, 2011, 2:08 pm

        HIV is no longer a “death sentence,” at least in a first world country (third world countries are a whole different story), and as someone who has a close friend who lives with HIV, I feel the need to point that out. Provided the individual living with HIV takes care of their well being, is rigorous about their appointments and medications, and over all on top of their health, they will most likely being able to live a long, normal life. And you can have an active sex life living with HIV too, as long as your ALWAYS careful and very open with your partner about everything. This disease needs to lose the stigma that it’s a death sentence so that people living with it can live a normal life!

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      • katie

        katie October 6, 2011, 12:26 am

        i disagree with you- only because HIV still can and does kill people, everyday, all over the world. I dont say that because i am scared of it, or of people with it, but just because of the severity of the actual disease.

        i totally agree with you that HIV needs to be less of a social stigma, and I am very happy about the advancements that medicine has made it possible for people to live longer and more fulfilled lives with the disease. but, yes, it is still a death sentence in my opinion. and even if it doesn’t kill your body right away, i am sure that it still kills spirits. it is still a very serious disease that is expensive and something that will completely change your life. maybe death sentence is a little harsh, but HIV still should be taken very seriously.

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      • avatar

        j October 6, 2011, 11:28 am

        What country do you live in where everyone who has unprotected sex also has unlimited money to go to doctors and be rigorous about medications? It’s a death sentence if you’re not ultra rich or uninsured, don’t kid yourself.

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    • avatar

      iseeshiny October 4, 2011, 10:24 am

      “b) Contraceptives including condoms and their effective rate (condoms are not 100% effective, so she can still pass the STD on to him)”

      Yes on this. Not to mention a lot of times the condom goes on after there has been contact. And what is she going to do if he wants to go down on her? Make him wear saran wrap? Going to be pretty difficult to explain without the whole “I have herpes” (or whatever) conversation.

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      • avatar

        honeybeenicki October 4, 2011, 11:16 am

        Oh my, I could have done without the saran wrap image in my head. You’d think that would be a suffocation hazard =\

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      • avatar

        lexie.b October 4, 2011, 2:55 pm

        They could use dental dams which are designed for female oral sex.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl October 4, 2011, 9:06 am

    I am absolutely disgusted that the friend would not share an incurable STD with a partner. It is reckless, immature and irresponsible. Having the “past partners” and “STD” conversations with a new partner, wither a one night stand or the person you end up marrying, is a difficult and uncomfortable conversation for everyone…but when you decide to be intimate you take on this responsibility. Condoms are not a sure-fire way to protect against pregnancy or STD’s.

    I agree with Wendy that it is not the LW duty to tell her friends BF. But the friend needs to man up and address this.

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  • avatar

    GingerLaine October 4, 2011, 9:11 am

    And please remind her that condoms DO NOT prevent the spread of ALL STDs. Your description leads me to believe that she may have herpes. And herpes is an easily contracted STD, despite use of a condom.

    In fact, didn’t we have an LW not too long ago who’d contracted herpes from a partner who did not disclose, but thought that was fine because he was using a condom?

    Please convince her to tell him. Shame on her if she doesn’t.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl October 4, 2011, 9:26 am

      I also thought was what the LW was getting at. Herpes can be spread from lady/man parts to the mouth and other parts of the body, so it really is something that needs to be discussed. Plus it is an incredibly common (Planned Parenthood says 1 out of 4 adults) and treatable infection.

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger October 4, 2011, 5:26 pm

        Why in the world didn’t she just say herpes? I get wanting to be anonymous, but saying “herpes” is not going identify her friend. “Oh! I know her! The girl who is dating a boy, probably in america! Way to out your friend on the the internet.” Not so much. It just leads to speculation (maybe its hpv, and she means it will affect him forever because he may give it to partners, though have no way of knowing it for himself). Details are helpful. Share them LWs!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 4, 2011, 5:29 pm

        bahaha. OH SHIT! I think I know her too.

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  • avatar

    artsygirl October 4, 2011, 9:13 am

    LW – In some places your friend could be tried for assault if she knowingly infects her BF. It sounds like she wants to pretend that she doesn’t have an STI. So long as no one talks about the STI then it doesn’t exist. This is not healthy for her future partners and it is not healthy for her. I would possibly encourage her to find a support group (they have them for everything under the sun) to maybe talk about her fears and experiences. Since this is a new diagnosis, she is probably still partly in shock. Maybe meeting people who have lived with this disease for decades might help give her some perspective. I hope you are able to convince your friend to do the right thing for everyone’s sake.

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  • avatar

    220 October 4, 2011, 9:22 am

    I get the feeling she’s talking about herpes too, and just wanted to share- I have 2 friends who have it. Both freaked out big time before telling their current partners about it. One ended up marrying the guy and another has been in a serious, committed relationship for about 6 months. In both of these cases the men respected honesty and took their chances, but they did so fully knowing what they were dealing with.
    LW, encourage your friend to be honest, because lets face it, he’s eventually going to find out, and when he does, it’s not going to end well!!

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow October 4, 2011, 10:25 am

      Yeah – she just needs to arm herself with as much information as possible so she can address all of her partner’s questions/concerns.

      Telling him AFTER THE FACT will cause so much more damage than telling him before.

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    • avatar

      12345 October 4, 2011, 12:00 pm

      I actually have HSV-2 which I got from an ex boyfriend. I’ve had it for 2 years and I’ve always been up front with anyone I am seeing who I *might* have sex with. I’ve had to have “the conversation” 3 times, and every single one of those guys were very respectful and didn’t run off. None of them were grossed out, and none of them ran off and told people. They respected me more because I had the guts to tell them. I ended up having a long term relationship with one of the guys. The other 2 didn’t work out, but it had nothing to with my diagnosis. It’s SO scary to have the conversation, but it is absolutely necessary.

      Also, condoms help prevent spreading of HSV-2 (genital herpes), of course. As does taking daily medication. The fact is, the condom covers a lot of the male genitalia, but not the woman’s. All it takes is the bare skin of a woman to touch any bare part of the male (vice versa) and it can be spread. Whether the friend has an outbreak or not, she can still spread it. If the man has done some “manscaping” and knicked his skin and that skin comes into contact with her skin, he can get it. There are so many helpful websites out there. She needs to get educated and it will make the process easier to deal with on her own, and to deal with telling her partner. There is a horrible stigma against people who have HSV (herpes), so I understand she is scared and probably in denial.

      Coming from someone who has it, if your friend refuses to tell him about her diagnosis and intends on sleeping with him, if I were you, I would tell him. I know people will disagree with me on that, but I wish to God someone could have warned me. It’s not horrible to live with, but it definitely did change my life. For the good and the bad. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone because it just…sucks.

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      • avatar

        thyme October 5, 2011, 8:04 pm

        How do you bring it up with a new partner? I haven’t had to do that yet, and I have no idea how to approach it. Sounds so scary. It’s reassuring to hear that nobody has been mean about it to you.

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  • avatar

    ReginaRey October 4, 2011, 8:25 am

    Great advice, Wendy! I don’t have much to add besides – I would emphasize to your friend that condoms are NOT the magic cure-all she seems to think they are. They may protect you well during traditional sex, but what about other forms? Not to get too graphic here, but how exactly does she plan to react if (and likely when) he tries to go down on her? Maybe you should remind her that she doesn’t want to be in THAT awkward position (quite literally) before saying something. Not only would it be exceedingly awkward, I imagine this guy might dump her for not telling him up front. Remind her that she risks this whole relationship if he eventually finds out that she hid it from him.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow October 4, 2011, 10:23 am

      Protection should be used for oral sex as well. Dental dams are available for cunnilingus and analingus – just put a dab of lube on the girl’s side for sensation. Dental dams can be hard to come by, so cutting a condom longways can work, or saran wrap can also work in a pinch. There are flavored condoms and flavored lube available for fellatio also. ANY STD can be spread through oral sex. Also, HPV has surpassed tobacco use as the main cause of oral cancer. Just something to think about.

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      • avatar

        honeybeenicki October 4, 2011, 11:33 am

        There was just a story on CNN today about the increase in oral cancer being directly related to oral sex and HPV.

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      • avatar

        ReginaRey October 4, 2011, 10:39 am

        I agree that there are ways to protect yourself during oral. But unfortunately, I don’t think they’re used NEARLY as often as they should be. And when it comes to the LW’s friend, it seems that she isn’t taking her STD as seriously as she should, which leads me to believe that protecting her partner during oral won’t be one of her first priorities.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow October 4, 2011, 10:55 am

        True. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell people to protect themselves during oral. NO ONE does.

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger October 4, 2011, 5:27 pm

        Can men get throat cancer from HPV? Or does HPV only turn into cancer in women?

        (real question).

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      • avatar

        LittleLuWho October 4, 2011, 7:30 pm

        Yes, men can get throat cancer from (some strains of) HPV. I believe it’s one of the leading causes of throat cancer, actually. Anal cancer too.

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger October 4, 2011, 7:34 pm

        So why does everyone say that men are just carriers if they aren’t? Is it because it doesn’t turn into genital warts on them?

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    • avatar

      iseeshiny October 4, 2011, 10:25 am

      Aw, crud, I really need to read the other comments before I add in my own. That’s, like the third time I’ve done this. Sorry. I agree with you.

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    • avatar

      mBookish October 5, 2011, 10:06 am

      You’re right on the money with this. Also, it’s important to note that condoms don’t protect you against certain STDs during traditional sex either. They only protect the areas they cover. STDs like herpes and genital warts usually occur in the area around the genitals, so it’s still VERY easy to spread them, even with the use of a condom. I hate to be the scare police, but I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to condoms.

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  • avatar

    Flake October 4, 2011, 9:32 am

    I have to disagree with most people so far. While I do believe that it is ultimately the friend’s responsibility to disclose this particular information, I would tell the BF. I realize i
    I would probably lose the friend, but he has a right to know. It doesn’t matter what type of a disease this is. It can mean lifelong repercussions for a lot of people (her past and future partners, his partners and a lot of other people they may come into sexual contact with). HIV is no longer fatal either. I would, however, give my friend a time frame to tell. I would say something like, “this is something I absolutely think he should know, and if you don’t tell him within two weeks, I will”. Like everyone suggested, I would remind her how devastating it was for her, and insist that she do the right thing. And if she doesn’t, I would. This circle has to stop somewhere.

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    • avatar

      DDL October 4, 2011, 10:07 am

      He does have a right to know, and yes you can be charged with various crimes if you’ve knowingly hid an STI and spread it to another partner. But it’s not within the LW’s rights to disclose this information, no matter how much she may want to. She’s not sleeping with the person at risk; she’s not the one with the STI: her friend is. By going behind her friend’s back anonymously, or otherwise, to tell this person about the STI, she’s creating more drama than need be because she may not know this man well enough to be telling him something like this about her friend; and because she would be betraying her friend’s trust in her. And, ultimately, an ultimatum would just stress her friend out (especially if she can’t handle what she’s gotten herself into) and cause her more panic then she needs right now.

      The LW should encourage her friend to tell her new partner, full disclosure, with all the information about treatment and how to live with it, etc; that way, he is prepared, he knows to get tested, and she feels better about knowing that she can handle her situation. Plus, the LW won’t lose her friend (I’m assuming she doesn’t want to), and her friend may not lose her partner if he knows what he’s getting into. If he’s not willing to stay, then he’s not the man for the LW’s friend. Because this is a live-long STD, her friend needs to find someone who will be okay with the fact that she has it.

      But ultimately, it’s not within the LW’s right to be telling anyone. Her friend has to, and if she doesn’t want to, chances are it’s because she’s scared of the repercussions; she doesn’t know how to live with it herself; and she probably doesn’t want to have to admit to having a life-long STI. It was suggested that the LW guide her friend to support groups, and that is a really good first step to dealing with anything like this. And it would probably be beneficial if the LW joined her friend at this group, one, so she can hear how it’s best to deal; and, two, so her friend doesn’t feel alone.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow October 4, 2011, 10:39 am

        There are no disclosure laws about any STD in particular except HIV. And even HIV laws vary from state to state. People call up the health department all the time saying “So & so has herpes and they’re not telling their partners!” and we’re like….. “Sorry there’s nothing we can do.”

        It’s even difficult to prosecute someone who’s knowingly spreading HIV, or finding someone willing to come forward to the police.

        Ugh, I have a story about that. I had a girl call me up one day wanting to know if we (the health department) could do something about her baby’s father. He infected her with HIV AND syphilis – never told her about it – she only found out when she was pregnant and went for routine bloodwork. They had been together on and off for several years. And when she tested positive, she told him – and he tried to blame it on HER. She believed him, and felt horrible for infecting him. Eventually she figured out that he had known and hid it from her, and they broke up. She called the health department because she knew that he was seeing another girl and not telling her about the HIV, and she wanted to help out the new girlfriend. She had tried approaching her via facebook, but the new girlfriend was just like “Oh that’s the ex-babymama, she’s crazy, she’s jealous, why is she bothering me” etc. (The mom didn’t mention HIV specifically because at that time she didn’t want the other girl to know her business – she was just generally warning her to stay away from him). We never found the new girlfriend because all we knew was her name and we didn’t have any contact information. They tried to find the dude but never located him. I urged the infected female to call the police and report her ex-boyfriend, but she wouldn’t do it. It’s a really difficult process, probably akin to a rape trial where all your business gets dragged out in the open.

        ANYWAY, the new girlfriend eventually came into our clinic because she got syphilis from the guy. She had no clue about the HIV. I told her that her name came up in an investigation as someone who could benefit from an HIV test and she was in complete disbelief and didn’t connect the dots. EVENTUALLY she called the babymama and they had a heart-to-heart, so now she knows how big of an asshole this dude is. Is she going to prosecute? No. But here’s the kicker…. she told me that the first time she had sex with him, he tried to use a condom and she TOLD HIM NOT TO.

        So yes, while it is his LEGAL AND MORAL OBLIGATION to tell her – doesn’t some of it fall on her too?

        I think all I’m getting at is……..don’t ever just assume that your partner will disclose something, law or no law. It’s YOUR responsibility to protect yourself.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow October 4, 2011, 11:11 am

        Wendy, can you remove the above post please? Even though I didn’t reveal any specifics, I have disclosed my geographic location in the past and I’m concerned about confidentiality of others involved.

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    • avatar

      honeybeenicki October 4, 2011, 10:09 am

      I don’t personally think its the LW’s place to say anything if it isn’t life threatening, but I have to agree that if the friend refused to tell I would probably tell him. I don’t know that it is the right thing, but I am pretty sure that’s what I would do in the circumstance. But I absolutely think the LW should first encourage her friend to get educated better on it and tell the boyfriend.

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    • avatar

      Tandy October 4, 2011, 10:15 am

      I have to agree with you here, though I think I come from an unusual standpoint. I know for me that since I can’t take most medications unless I’m dying, getting something even kind of simple like herpes could really screw with me. I couldn’t treat it during outbreaks and would have to deal with it full force. And we don’t know if this man is in a similar situation.
      Would I probably lose a friend? Totally. Would I come off as a major jerk who is intrusive and can’t seem to keep a secret? Probably. But I put myself in the guy’s situation and I know I’d be grateful if someone told me because I’d have to deal with such a disease at its worst for life.

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    • katie

      katie October 4, 2011, 8:30 pm

      i tend to agree with you… even thought it isn’t her place to tell this guy, he really does have a right to know. if you were the guy, wouldnt you rather know from your girlfriend’s friend then to find out the lies later and be infected? i personally wouldnt care where the information came from, i would just want to know

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  • avatar

    Kerrycontrary October 4, 2011, 9:43 am

    The only comment I would make is that if the friend has hpv, which we know is incurable and spreads easily, but usually goes away on it’s own, then the friends doesn’t have to tell the guy. Especially if she’s using condoms, but as ReginaRay said stds can be spread through other means than traditional intercourse. Honestly though if my friend came to me all accusatory “are you going to tell him about your Herpes!?” I would be really embarrassed. Maybe she is going to tell him and would rather just keep that information private. Maybe it’s something she hasnt thought about because they arnt there yet. Or maybe she’s still considering how to tell him because she’s still figuring out the STD-conversation. Either way I really don’t think this is the LW’s business. You arnt the STD-police. Are you going to act this way with all your friends BFs and say “hey she just had chlamydia!” or “watch out she didn’t use a condom one time”. Your friend and her BF are adults and they can make their own decision. The reason I say this is because my best friend from college dated this guy. By accident my boyfriend and I found out he was engaging in some very high risk sexual behavior before and after they dated. My friend then slept with him, as a friendly ex, and I freaked out and stupidly told her to use a condom. Well an hour later she told me to get my nose out of her business. And she was totally right!! LW, these people’s sec life does not involve you, unless they are looking for a threesome…

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    • avatar

      amber October 4, 2011, 10:20 am

      it didn’t sound like she just came out of nowhere with that question. they were talking about the new guy. maybe it’s weird to ask that but i know one of my friends has hpv and we had a discussion similar to this. how/when are you going to tell him, etc. in the end i think it’s how you approach the topic and how close you are. my friend and i are extremely close and having a conversation about a std and condom use just isn’t that weird. we’ve talked about it with the two bfs she’s had since diagnosis. however, in her case she always planned to tell and was often looking for moral support.

      and the key to your first sentence is it usually goes away. there are many cases where people will have it for the rest of their life. and even if it does go away, it’s still not ok to not tell someone about this.

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        iseeshiny October 4, 2011, 10:30 am

        Agree. And unless I’m sorely mistaken, HPV’s symptoms are what go away, not the virus. In fact, many men don’t get any symptoms at all. Meaning that an infected partner can go on to unknowingly infect his future partners. And if they’re female, that puts them at an increased risk for cervical cancer. So… no, even HPV is something to be careful about.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow October 4, 2011, 10:50 am

        It is a virus, but the immune system will clear up the infection within 2 years in the vast majority of cases. Most people don’t have any signs or symptoms. There’s no way for men to know that they have it unless they get warts. It’s detected in women if a pap smear shows abnormal cells.

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        sarita_f October 4, 2011, 5:31 pm

        CatsMeow – please correct me if I’m wrong, but I am under the impression that the strains of HPV that cause abnormal cervical cells in women (precursor to cervical cancer) and the strains that cause warts (men and women) are different. And there are some 23+ different strains?

        What I’m getting at, is that the strains that cause warts in both sexes are not the same as the ones that cause cervical cancer, so if a woman has been diagnosed due to abnormal cells, there’s usually no physical effect on the men she sleeps with.

        I was diagnosed with moderate dysplasia (the term for abnormal cells detected via pap smear), oh, 8 years or so ago. My boyfriend at the time had been a “virgin” prior to me, although had messed around with a couple of women, whereas I had one previous partner. There wasn’t as much info about HPV around as there is now, and my doctors told me there wasn’t really anything to say to my boyfriend since there wasn’t much for him to do. I didn’t feel right about that, and when I told my boyfriend about my diagnosis he went straight to his 80-year-old family urologist. This doc took a look at his peen and told him he was fine and not infected (we’d been having sex without condoms for a good 3.5 years at that point), and to use a condom in the future. I KNEW that wasn’t the right answer but it’s hard to dispute a med doctor.

        There’s SO much misinformation and paranoia out there w/r/t HPV. Most doctor’s I’ve spoken with will tell you to not even bother trying to contact recent partners or what have you… nothing can be done about it, you can’t stop the spread (unless everyone remains fully clothed forever and ever) and most people will clear the virus with zero repercussions whatsoever.

        CatsMeow, please correct me if anything I’ve said is wrong or inaccurate. And thanks!

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      Lindsay October 4, 2011, 10:24 am

      Based on the description, I don’t think it’s HPV. But condoms specifically don’t protect against HPV. It can be spread between body to body down there on parts that aren’t covered by condoms.

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    • avatar

      trying to help October 4, 2011, 10:25 am

      Kerrycontrary,

      I would like to second what you said about hpv. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with it about this time last year. I was devastated, of course, but had it taken care of.

      On my last follow up I asked my doctor is this is something I need to divulge to future sexual partners. She said no. Some of you may say I have a horrible doctor for telling me this, but she’s extremely reputable and works at a great hosipital and I trust her. The fact is, 80% of people have had this disease at some point in their life and it mostly clears on its own. There is no current test to detect HPV in men and women get, or should get, regular pap smears which detect the disease.

      So, LW, if this STD is HPV, I would let it go. If it isn’t, I would follow Wendy’s advice.

      Unfortunately, the HPV shot came on the market when I was 26. A little too late for me since it’s recommended for those 25 or younger. People reading this blog, please get your children vaccinated or if you’re of age, get vaccinated yourself.

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        Kerrycontrary October 4, 2011, 12:08 pm

        Yeh I only said what I said since I had problems with HPV and they cleared up after 2 years. I was never THAT upset over the news since a lot of my college friends had dealt with it before so I knew the drill. Furthermore, there is NO test for men to detect HPV since it is so common. Therefor, there are plenty of men out there passing along HPV because they can’t get tested for it. And yes I’m aware that HPV can be spread from hand-to-genital contact as well as oral sex. I think in general I completely agree that the friend of the LW should make her boyfriend aware of her std (if it’s hpv that’s a personal decision, we can all agree to disagree), but I don’t think that the LW should inform the boyfriend or really harass her girlfriend about it. Say something once and then move on.

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      • JK

        JK October 4, 2011, 9:00 pm

        Thankfully in my country the HPV vaccine has been added to the official vaccination calendar (so it´s free and mandatory) for all girls at 11. 🙂

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      meaghan October 4, 2011, 10:30 am

      Im sorry, but if my friend didn’t give me a heads up that someone I intended on sleeping with had an STD I’d probably never talk to him or her again. And the same goes if I found out later that my partner had one and didn’t tell me. It doesn’t matter if it’s curable or not; I’m sharing my BODY with you. The least you can do is give me fair warning about the increased risks so I can get tested and take extra.precautions with you.

      You did the right thing, and she reacted badly. If you’re too embarrassed to talk about all aspects of sex then you shouldn’t be having it to begin with.

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      Christy October 4, 2011, 8:43 pm

      I disagree with your first part. It is true that HPV can go away on its own, but the friend should still tell the guy anyway because he could get infected from her, have no symptoms, then go and sleep with someone else (say they break up the next week) and infect her. People have the right to know what they’re getting exposed to.

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    LTC039 October 4, 2011, 9:54 am

    I think it’s absolutely horrifying that your friend wouldn’t pass that information along to her new sexual partner. It is the reason why we have so many of these STD’s in the first place! I would be in the same position as you. Unfortunately, it is true that you cannot approach him yourself.
    Is your friend fully informed about her STD? Does she know when she’s more at risk to spread it, etc…? If not, please encourage her to get more informed. You’re right, she doesn’t sound very mature & responsible. This is someone’s HEALTH she’s messing with. Yeah it sucks, & I’m sure in her mind she’s not withholding this out of malice. She is most likely super embarrassed & worried that divulging that information will prevent her from many relationships….But, as Wendy said, approaching her in a calm, caring, manner will hopefully get her to look at the reality of the situation.

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    2_J October 4, 2011, 10:11 am

    I’m going to kind of shy away from the Herpes assumption but i am somewhat convinced what she is talking about is HPV, 82% of the countries population ( or maybe the worlds population, i forget) has it and most don’t even know. HPV is the top largest STD going around right now, and for most men, it won’t have much, if any, effect, however i have a few friends and family members that have this and that are female and some of them have already had some pretty serious issues come about because of it, regardless of who’s feelings are going to get hurt, who gets pissed, who wants to argue “hey its none of your business” blah blah blah , i would give a one day time frame for the girl to tell her boyfriend or i would. To me, minding my own business and not looking out for someone in that situation is the same damn thing as people that just walk on by and ignore someone who is being mugged or raped screaming for help by bystanders who have that , better you than me i dont wanna get involved attitude. I’d tell him.

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      Flake October 4, 2011, 10:24 am

      Exactly… One of my friends also has a tragic story about herpes. Apparently, she had an outbreak and either didn’t know it or ignored it. During that time she went to visit her brother and his newborn baby. Somehow, the baby got the virus and passed away. Right now she is one of those people that does the infomercials about HPV and talks to high school kids.
      And personally, I would definitely want to know this about a potential sex partner.

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        Ktfran October 4, 2011, 10:35 am

        HPV and herpes are two different things.

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        Flake October 4, 2011, 10:40 am

        I know. We don’t know for sure what the LW is talking about here.

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        Ktfran October 4, 2011, 10:59 am

        The only reason I said something is becuase at first you were talking about herpes and then said your friend speaks out about HPV. I was confused.

        I think it’s great the friend speaks to high school kids about HPV. I think more people need to know about it and everyone should get the shot or shots. I think even boys can get one now too. If not, it’s getting close to that.

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        Flake October 4, 2011, 11:38 am

        Yeah, I realized that later.. That should say that she speaks about herpes AND HPV, because those two are the most “popular” STD, and kids for some reason don’t consider them bad.

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        MJ October 4, 2011, 10:47 am

        HPV and herpes are not the same thing. HPV is Human Papilloma virus; it can cause genital warts, but it is mostly “silent” and will be cleared by your body eventually. Or not. It can cause cervical, anal or oral cancer. (Also possibly penile). It’s rare that men are affected by this; even most women clear the virus on their own, although not always. (That’s why paps are important).

        Herpes is a skin infection that lives in your blood. Some people have outbreaks (sores) some people don’t. You never get rid of herpes, so even when you’re not having an outbreak, you can spread it to someone else–who might then have an outbreak. There are also silent carriers of herpes who don’t know they’ve ever had it. If you use a condom and don’t have oral sex, it’s rare that women with herpes can pass it to men when they are not in the middle of an outbreak (at least that’s what I’ve read). However, since it is a permanent condition, it’s something to disclose.

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        savannah October 4, 2011, 11:35 am

        Actually there has been a rise (225% from 1988-2004!) in mouth and throat cancers in white middle class men which has been attributed to a strain of HPV. Another reason boys should be getting the HPV vaccine as well as girls!

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster October 4, 2011, 10:59 am

        I hope this isn’t too ignorant a question, but I didn’t want to Google something like this while at work-
        How did your friend pass genital herpes on to a newborn? And how did that cause the newborn’s death? I’ve never heard of such a thing.

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        Flake October 4, 2011, 11:36 am

        This happened at least 5 years ago and I admit I don’t know the exact details, because honestly, I didn’t ask. The doctor’s guess was improper hygiene, like going to the bathroom, not washing the hands, and then playing with the baby. The baby (he was less then 1 month old) got complications when the virus spread. I’ve done some research on it afterwards and as far as I understand quite a few babies are exposed to it at birth, and most of them never develop any symptoms, just like adults.

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  • Budj

    Budjer October 4, 2011, 10:15 am

    I’d tell him if she doesn’t…friendship be damned…if any of my friends would put someone at risk like that I would risk the friendship to protect a stranger.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom October 4, 2011, 10:33 am

      If any of my friends were that callous I wouldn’t be friends anymore so it would be irrelevant to the friendship if I told their bf.

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  • CatsMeow

    CatsMeow October 4, 2011, 10:20 am

    I work in public health, and part of my job is to talk to infected individuals about getting their partners tested and treated for the infection they have. If it’s HIV or syphilis, we MUST notify the partners confidentially.

    The LW is talking about herpes. She said it’s incurable (virus) but not HIV and not life-threatening (which is why I’m guessing it’s not HPV). Herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact, meaning that a condom won’t necessarily protect a partner simply because a condom doesn’t cover everything. If the blisters are on the outside of her vagina, then his skin would still come into contact with it. If the blisters are on her cervix, then it’s likely a condom would be good protection.

    The health department doesn’t investigate herpes. It’s not a reportable disease for several reasons. One reason is just that it’s way too common, and we don’t have the (wo)manpower. But the other thing about herpes is….. and I’m not sure how to say this, and I know that this is an unpopular opinion……. it’s not that big of a deal. Yes, it’s incurable, YES it’s embarrassing, but… that’s about it. Complications of herpes are stress and pain. It’s not going to cause infertility or PID or epididymitis like chlamydia and gonorrhea; it’s not going to cause blindness, deafness, dementia, or DEATH like syphilis; and it doesn’t damage the immune system like HIV. The worst thing is if a female has an outbreak at the time she is delivering a baby then they will probably want to do a C-section.

    And honestly…. does everyone that’s ever had a cold sore disclose to their partners before they kiss them? Before they go down on them? Does anyone expect them to?

    There are TONS of people that have it and don’t know it. The first outbreak is always the worst – and some people won’t have recurrent outbreaks. Taking medication can shorten a current outbreak and prevent future outbreaks (if she chooses to take it regularly, although some people don’t) and lessen the chances of spreading it to a partner. Lots of people have been exposed to it but never end up showing any symptoms.

    Outbreaks usually happen during times of stress, or when the immune system is weakened from fighting off another illness. Many people who have recurrent outbreaks will be able to predict when one is coming – they might feel tingling or itching in the affected area.

    The LW’s friend needs to learn all of this stuff so that she can figure out the best way to prevent transmission to partners AND so that she can educate her partners. She really does need to learn how to have “the talk” – now more than ever. There is SO much stigma surrounding STDs simply because they’re spread sexually. I mean, seriously – we all have sex. Condoms don’t protect against the stuff that’s spread skin-to-skin, so basically…. if you’re having sex, you’re at risk. PERIOD. People don’t go around spreading STDs and HIV maliciously (for the most part) – they either don’t know they have something, or they’re just ignorant about how it’s spread.

    I’m not saying at all that the LW’s friend shouldn’t tell her partner about her STD. I just think people make a bigger deal out of this stuff than it needs to be. And I think the LW is being a little judgmental. It’s the stigma that keeps people from being honest and open to their partners. The best thing she can do is to be non-judgmental and not pushy….and it is NOT her place to tell the guy. Not under any circumstances. The health department doesn’t even do that.

    AND… it’s the guy’s responsibility to protect himself! So many people assume that 1. their partners will disclose (there is no guarantee!!!) and 2. their partners will know if they have an infection. SO MANY STDs can go undetected by the person infected. 75% of females and 50% of males with chlamydia will have NO signs or symptoms. The vast majority of people I talk to that are positive for syphilis either never noticed their symptoms, or noticed something but didn’t recognize it as a symptom of syphilis (e.g. skin rash). All I’m saying is… it is the PARTNER’s responsibility to protect himself. If he’s going to engage in sexual activity with a new partner, what’s stopping HIM from initiating the conversation about STDs? Or saying, hey let’s go to the clinic and get tested together before we have sex? (Side note: a herpes test is not part of a regular STD panel, unless symptoms are present and then a culture can be done. Otherwise it has to be a blood test, which many places don’t do, and it can be rather expensive).

    YES she should disclose but the boyfriend should be proactive as well. If she had done that, if she had been educated beforehand, then maybe she wouldn’t be in this predicament.

    I apologize for the long rambly rant but STD stuff gets me going.

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      lk October 4, 2011, 10:32 am

      Great info! Thanks : )

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      amber October 4, 2011, 10:36 am

      i think the biggest thing about your comment is that so many people DON’T know anything about most STDs. and no one can be reminded enough about the differences, etc. and how to protect ourselves.

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      Flake October 4, 2011, 10:39 am

      This is a very informative post, but I would like to respectfully disagree with part of it 🙂 I know that herpes is not a particularly harmful virus, but it’s more than simply annoying. It’s like a cold. Not harmful to you, but if you come home and your kids get it, they can have major complications because of it. And just because a lot of people have it doesn’t mean that you should not prevent others from getting it.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow October 4, 2011, 10:43 am

        No, I agree that she needs to tell him – but herpes doesn’t cause any major health problems. How many people do you know with cold sores? Same thing.

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        Flake October 4, 2011, 10:46 am

        Well, cold sores are kind of obvious. And I would avoid contact with a person with a cold sore, but that’s because I am a little paranoid about them…

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow October 4, 2011, 10:53 am

        But herpes can be spread even when symptoms are not present.

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        Flake October 4, 2011, 11:06 am

        I know that too, but there’s nothing I can do about that.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow October 4, 2011, 10:48 am

        Oh except one more thing: Open sores are open doors! Having one STD makes it easier to get infected with HIV or other STDs.

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        honeybeenicki October 4, 2011, 11:38 am

        I don’t think I’ve ever heard that saying, but I might have to use it from here on out.

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        savannah October 4, 2011, 11:03 am

        You guys are disagreeing because you’re kind of talking about two different issues. In general, there are 2 types of herpes. One is associated with genital contact and can be very painful, tends to have more breakout episodes and can spread easily when someone is in one of those episodes. The other is associated with cold sores and is orally spread. The episodes are generally less painful and more infrequent. In the latter case whole families can carry the virus and its not uncommon for kids to get it very young through contact with their parents. This does not mean the parents or friends of parents have given the kids a std!

        However, because of sexual activity you can get one or both types of herpes in both areas of sexual contact (genital and oral). Getting a ‘oral’ herpes virus through sexual contact would (in comparison) be less of an ordeal and lifelong issue than the ‘genital’ herpes virus even if they were in the same area.

        This is all in general, and severity can vary from case to case. For some it really has a low impact upon their lives and sex lives and for others it can be quite painful and be an issue for a long time.

        fun fact: if you have both viruses then they call it Super herpes!

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow October 4, 2011, 11:24 am

        HSV1 can be spread to the genitals, though, and HSV2 to the mouth.

        I’m not saying that cold sores are ALWAYS caused by sexual contact. In fact, they’re usually not! And that’s exactly why people don’t make a big deal out of it – they’re not spread sexually. It’s essentially the same thing, yet no one demands disclosure, and no one would write a letter about it.

        And you’re right about the severity varying from person to person, or HSV2 *generally* being more severe…. but they’re both life-long, they both have varying degrees of severity depending on the individuals involved…. and typically people are going to freak out if they get herpes on their genitals whether a blood test reveals that it’s caused by HSV1 or HSV2.

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      Laurel October 4, 2011, 10:48 am

      Thank you for your post. Judgement and shaming are not the way to prevent the spread of STDs.

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      GatorGirl October 4, 2011, 11:42 am

      Really great info, thanks!

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      Kerrycontrary October 4, 2011, 12:13 pm

      Totally agree with your STD rant that it’s HIS responsible to protect himself as well. Also, how do we know that he hasn’t already disclosed the fact that he has herpes/whatever std as well and that’s why they are dating? I’m sorry I just don’t think the LW has enough insight into the relationship in this case.

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      thyme October 4, 2011, 1:10 pm

      As someone who has HSV2, I have to disagree with your statement that it is not a big deal. True, it’s not life-threatening and I’d certainly take my herpes over chlamydia, syphilis, or HIV, but it does really, really suck. My outbreaks happened so frequently that I had to get on daily Valtrex, which thank GOD there is a generic for now (it used to cost me over $100 a month), and even now, although I don’t get full-on, slid-down-a-cheese-grater, cry-while-I-pee outbreaks very often, I pretty much constantly feel a certain amount of pain and/or itchiness. It really kills the pleasure in sex, and sometimes it even hurts to walk because of the chaffing. It has definitely changed my life. I so wish I could go back and make a different choice.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow October 4, 2011, 2:12 pm

        I’m sorry to hear that. Thanks for sharing. I’ve never heard of anyone having that much trouble while on medication (except in the case of someone who’s immune system is severely compromised). Learn something new every day!

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        thyme October 4, 2011, 2:39 pm

        Thanks… yeah, I know some people don’t have any symptoms and don’t even know they have it. Like the person who gave it to me, for instance…

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      6napkinburger October 4, 2011, 7:00 pm

      You can have blisters on your cervix???? All the way up, on the inside???

      Not cool.

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    meaghan October 4, 2011, 10:22 am

    Sounds like your friend is in denial about what she has, and is ting to live her life like it never happened.

    Have her send one of those anonymous ‘You Have An STD Card’s if she refuses to tell him in person. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s better than nothing.

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      Lindsay October 4, 2011, 10:26 am

      Sending him a card after he probably has contracted the STD to tell him he has it is not any better than doing nothing. The point is to tell him beforehand so he has a chance to make a decision about his body.

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    MissDre October 4, 2011, 10:54 am

    I haven’t had time to read all the comments so I don’t know if this has been mentioned as a last possible option. Please understand that I absolutely agree with Wendy that you need to speak to your friend and that SHE needs to tell his man herself. But IF that doesn’t work and you really want this guy to know, there is another responsible option. It may piss off your friend, but it’s up to you to decide what is more important.

    I don’t know if things work similarly in the United States, but in Canada, if you are diagnosed with any sort of STD, the doctor is obligated by law to report you to Health Canada. A Health Canada nurse will follow up by phone and they ask you about your sexual history and have you had any sexual contact in the past however many days and they ask to know who you have been in contact with so they can reach out to them.

    If a person is too afraid to tell someone they have an STD, you can get Health Canada to reach out to them. Everything is anonymous, the person will just get a phone call from a nurse telling them that somebody they have had sexual contact with has such and such and that they should go to a doctor.

    At least that way he knows and it may spark a conversation with the girl. I hope you don’t have to go this route though, because it most definitely should be your friend telling him.

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      spark October 7, 2011, 8:32 pm

      Wow. I’m glad I don’t live in Canada!

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    Bossy Italian Wife October 4, 2011, 10:56 am

    You’ve got your obligations crossed here. While I totally agree that your friend needs to disclose this information, your obligation is to your friend, not some guy you don’t even know.

    Time for some truth honey: this happens to all sorts of people every day and this is precisely why when you are having sex with a partner whose sexual history you are unsure of, you gotta wrap it up EVERY TIME. Hopefully this guy is smart enough to know that he should be putting a trench coat on his Willy. It sounds like they are using protection, so….

    Whenever I have switched partners, call me old fashioned, I have required an STD test… as in we both go to clinic and get tested. Is it glamourous? Hardly, but it’s the way it goes if you wanna get down with me! Now I’m married, so I can forego this awkwardness, thank goodness!

    I would certainly encourage your friend to disclose this information, but you also need to keep in mind, it’s her business. And she is likely really afraid of rejection after she comes clean about it.

    One last thing: I know someone who was date raped and got an STD as a result. She was devastated by this, and as a result hesitant to tell her partners. She dated a guy for several months before telling him, and when she did tell him, he was okay with it; the timing was right, I guess. I urged her to tell him, but I didn’t force the issue because the situation was painful for her. So put yourself in her shoes and have a little compassion.

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      honeybeenicki October 4, 2011, 11:36 am

      Unfortunately, just using a condom will not necessarily protect the parter, especially depending on what the STD happens to be. In your case of the person who was raped and got an STD, I’m all about compassion. In this person’s case, it appears to have been consensual sex with a prior partner, not rape so it is not exactly comparing apples to apples. As I did say in my post, it is not the LW’s place to say anything, but I definitely don’t think the friend needs to be handled with kid gloves regarding putting another human being at risk for a currently incurable disease.

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    AndreaMarie October 4, 2011, 12:15 pm

    You have to have a serious sitdown with your friend to discuss the consequences of her not disclosing this info with him. I can udnerstand her fear. she finds a guy she really likes and is scared that once he knows her secret he’ll run for it. But honestly, that’s within his right. I’m sure she wished she would have known her ex had the infection so she could have had that choice. Why would she want to cause the pain of taking that same choice away from someone, especially someone she cares for? Also, let’s say it all works out and they move in. Does she not think he will eventually uncover the Valtrex or whatever medication she is taking? That can’t end well.

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    spark October 4, 2011, 12:54 pm

    If she has HPV, I don’t think she has an obligation to tell him. Herpes (which is what it sounds like), then yes

    (I wish I could see if people would purple thumb me for this! I do have many reasons why I think HPV doesn’t need to be disclosed, but I don’t have time to get into them on a quick lunch break!)

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      Fabelle October 5, 2011, 9:16 am

      I agree with you that HPV does not need to be disclosed; my doctor confirmed this when I asked her. There is currently no text for men, over 80% of the population already has some form of it, and as long as you get regular gyno check-ups & have everything taken care of– it will go away on it’s own.

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        Fabelle October 5, 2011, 9:17 am

        *test, not text

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    lets_be_honest October 4, 2011, 1:34 pm

    Not really piping in with any advice as it was well covered by Wendy, but just wanted to add – LW, why couldn’t you have just said what the STD was? Personally annoying to hint around the bush (?) when its an anonymous letter.

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      Addie Pray October 4, 2011, 2:16 pm

      Heehee!

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      spark October 4, 2011, 7:21 pm

      I totally agree with this!!!

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    AKchic October 4, 2011, 1:49 pm

    When it comes to STDs, I am VERY sensitive on this issue. My sister is NOT careful. She picked up herpes thanks to being a bed-hopper. She told ME to go get checked right before Christmas after she found out (this is how I found out she slept with my 2nd ex-husband) because she didn’t know when she’d gotten it, and didn’t want me to risk it.
    The worst was she was so blaise about her diagnosis. She had both vaginal and oral herpes and kept insisting to me, my mother and grandmother that it was okay to kiss on my kids as usual. The “but I’m their Aunt!” wail was used often that Christmas. I finally had to tell my mother that because she had herpes on her mouth, she could very well spread them to my kids and if she did, I would NOT take it lightly. I may not have gotten it from her from my husband, but I wasn’t getting it from her from my kids, and my kids weren’t getting it from her either.

    If your friend isn’t going to take it seriously, then I would question the friendship. She is willing to risk others’ health just to save herself embarassment. That, to me, isn’t someone I would want to associate with. It’s one reason why I don’t associate with my sister. Condoms help, yes, but they are not fool-proof. Nor do they keep everything out. HIV/AIDS can get through (they are smaller than the condom’s barrier); herpes is on the entire genital region, and the condom doesn’t cover it; crabs, while they can be removed – they are more pubic dwellers, and will travel. Your friend needs a wake-up call.

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    cdobbs October 4, 2011, 2:11 pm

    I think it is up to everyone to take responsibility for their own health. While it is morally wrong for the girl not to divulge that she has an std, it is up to the boyfriend to protect himself, ask about a partners current health status BEFORE having sex, using protection and not engaging in behaviour that will jeopardize their own health. You can’t blame someone else if you engage in risky behaviour and contract an std, take ownership of your body and health and protect yourself, first and foremost, because there are obviously people out there who won’t think twice about having unprotected sex. As far as the LW is concerned, its not her place to say anything, moral or not.

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      AKchic October 4, 2011, 2:52 pm

      You are right. But, that is also a problem too. People think that as long as they are “clean”, then they don’t have to worry. That it is the “infected” individual’s responsibility to warn others of their infection.
      It still doesn’t make it RIGHT that because of a trusting nature of your sexual partner, you get infected with an STD that the deceptive partner didn’t disclose.

      Ultimately, it is the “infected” individuals who are responsible for telling others that they are “infected” with something BEFORE they ever engage in sexual activities. Not after. Doing so afterwards is a form of entrapment. It’s like a woman telling a guy in the 40s-80s “oh, by the way, I haven’t been taking birth control pills, I’m probably pregnant – guess you should marry me so we don’t end up with a bastard child, huh?”. Now, some will use it to say “oh, well, if we’re both infected, we might as well just stay together, huh?”. And yes – some people DO actually do this.
      Alaska has a very high STD rate, and one of the reasons for this, besides poor education/protection against STDs, is that in the rural areas, males will have sex with women and then spring the STD news on them. Happens in the cities too, but women are able to be treated faster/better, and isolation isn’t as bad. Domestic violence is brutally high up here – and the purposeful spread/use of STDs to control/subdue the partner is used.

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      Flake October 4, 2011, 3:37 pm

      Yeah, but as people have mentioned, usual birth control may not prevent herpes or HPV because it can be transmitted by skin contact alone. The problem with these STDs is that you can do everything right and still end up infected.

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      spark October 4, 2011, 7:23 pm

      Well said, cdobbs! That was my first reaction. But still, what if he asks, and she lies? I think at some point you have to trust your partner.

      I think she’s in the clear until he asks. If she lies about it then, then THAT is what’s wrong.

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    SGMcG October 4, 2011, 2:14 pm

    LW, your friend may not want to risk ending this new relationship with the news of the STD. When you talk to her about disclosing her health, tell her that if the guy wants to dump her due to her STD, then he is not worth being with in the first place. If a guy wants to be with someone, they’ll be with that person – STD or not. To not give them the CHOICE about it is a greater insult to the guy.

    I remember when my blood donation to the Red Cross was rejected due to Hepatitis B antigens in my blood (it meant that I was exposed to the virus, but my body cured itself of the virus, but as a carrier of the antigens, there is a small chance of risk to potential partners). At first I was mad that someone I was with was exposed to the virus, but didn’t have the courtesy to tell me about it. Yet I did the responsible thing and called back all my partners and let them know about their potential risk as well as I let all future partners know about my blood. Not only was such news appreciated by the guy, but some were actually turned on with my blunt honesty and my desire to be responsible in my relations.

    Believe me, it is difficult to talk about such personal issues regarding past sexual history and risks involved with somebody. Yet if your friend can’t bring herself to tell future partners about her health, she’s not mature enough to be having sex at all. When you get involved with someone, whether if it’s only for a night, or for a relationship till death due you part, you want to ultimately leave that person in the same condition you found them or better – and not disclosing to that person you’re going to be sexual with about your STD really demonstrates how irresponsible she is.

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      spark October 4, 2011, 7:27 pm

      I personally hate it when people say, “If he doesn’t stick with you and your STD, then he’s not worth being with.” I’m worth being with – I like to think! – and I would NEVER stick around if a new partner told me that he has an incurable STD. I hate to say it, but I too only have one life to live. My health, happiness, and well-being is worth far more to me than the chance at a relationship with a new man. There are plenty of other men out there to choose from. Choosing not to start a sexual relationship with a new person does not mean that you are worth less. It sucks, but it’s the way things are.

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger October 4, 2011, 7:33 pm

        Totally agree with you. That stuck out to me as well. There is something called “stigma” which is unfair, and there is something called “not wanting to catch something incurable by doing the thing that spreads it with someone who can very realistically give it to me,” which is fair.

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  • Budj

    budjer October 4, 2011, 1:26 pm

    Surprise! I gave you herpes! Let’s make this relationship official!

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      Addie Pray October 4, 2011, 2:17 pm

      Sounds like a e-card from Someecards!

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  • avatar

    k October 4, 2011, 3:20 pm

    If its HPV, which over 80% of people who have ever had sex have, I don’t think she needs to tell him. It doesn’t even negatively affect guys. If its herpes, she needs to tell him

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    • Budj

      Budjer October 4, 2011, 3:37 pm

      Increases cancer risks in both sexes.

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    • avatar

      Flake October 4, 2011, 3:39 pm

      But he would become a carrier and give it to his future partners. It is because of that attitude that 80% people have it.

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    • avatar

      LennyBee October 4, 2011, 3:42 pm

      Where does this 80% number come from? All of the statistics I’ve ever seen put the number closer to 25%. It seems really high.

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      lets_be_honest October 4, 2011, 3:43 pm

      Just a word of advice—don’t become a doctor. What an ignorant and dangerous comment.

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      AKchic October 4, 2011, 4:27 pm

      80%? And where in the world did you get THAT statistic?
      http://www.cervicalcancercampaign.org/hpvfacts/

      70% of sexually active individuals will get it at some point in their lives, but for women, your immune system can clear it up on it’s own (doesn’t specify for men on that subject). Men are merely carriers as far as I know (I did a little research because my oldest, at age 11, is now eligible for the HPV vaccine – which he is getting).
      HPV is something that CAN go away for women. Herpes is not. Herpes is lifelong and something that can be difficult to deal with. Extra medications to take for pregnancy/delivery (don’t want a kid born with herpes, especially in the eyes). Same with HIV/AIDS. More STDs are becoming antibiotic resistant and that bodes no well for us. Harsher chemicals in our bodies can weaken our immune systems, or very well leave us with a previously curable STD that we can no longer cure. Dying of “the clap” again? *shudder*

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      • avatar

        k October 4, 2011, 5:07 pm

        Its way higher then 25%. 70% is still high, 80% was basically what my OBGYN said. It’s close enough. It also probably depends where you live etc. I don’t know anyone who has it (which is most girls I know) who felt the need to tell a partner. MANY peopel don’t really understand what it is, and frankly, since it doesnt matter if you use a condom or not in terms of spreading it, what is the point of potentially having a guy freak out and not date you bc of it. The fact is he probably already has it anyway and doesn’t know it.

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        lets_be_honest October 4, 2011, 5:09 pm

        “what is the point of potentially having a guy freak out and not date you bc of it”…um, that’s pathetic and i feel for your future boyfriends.

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      • avatar

        LennyBee October 4, 2011, 5:20 pm

        It’s also unfair. I have the right to decide whether I’m willing to potentially be exposed to an illness.

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      • avatar

        LennyBee October 4, 2011, 5:18 pm

        CDC puts the statistics around 50% for HPV. 16% for herpes.

        http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm

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        AKchic October 4, 2011, 7:38 pm

        Yeah, no – I would want to know whether or not the individual I am with is infected with so much as a cold BEFORE I do anything with them. And yes, I am the kind of person that wants a complete STD screening prior to sex if they have never had one, or haven’t had one “recently”. I may have been “around the block” enough times to own the damned thing – but I’m still clean. I do not take that for granted.

        I am not about to allow my own kids to be carriers of STDs either. That’s why my oldest has started his series of HPV shots.

        How would you like it if a guy gave you HPV and you ended up with uterine cancer because of it, and when confronted he said “well, I didn’t want you to not date me, so I didn’t tell you, because like, 80% of the population has it anyways”. Sure, it’s so bad that your uterus is being removed and you won’t have kids of your own – but hey – he got to date you! Score!

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      • theattack

        theattack October 5, 2011, 12:05 am

        The thing is, this situation can’t happen like that. Guys can’t tell girls when they have HPV, because there isn’t even a test for it for men. Women can find out about it and tell men beforehand, but a man having it isn’t going to make any difference for him anyway. He can’t get cervical cancer, so it doesn’t really affect him to be exposed to it anyway. Women don’t even get tested for HPV unless they have an abnormal pap smear either. I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal whether a woman tells her male partners or not.

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        Fabelle October 5, 2011, 9:27 am

        I agree, it really isn’t a big deal & I was even told by my (very reputable) doctor that I DID NOT need to tell my boyfriend. Like you said, there just is no point. HPV, though “sexually transmitted”, isn’t in the same category as other STDs. They are still making discoveries about it & it’s very misunderstood by the general public.

        “what is the point of potentially having a guy freak out and not date you bc of it” might sound blasè, but it’s absolutely true! There is no test for men, so what is he going to do with the information besides worry unnecessarily?

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  • avatar

    Something More October 4, 2011, 3:46 pm

    LW needs to man up and tell her friend that if she doesn’t let her boyfriend know about whatever STD she has, then the LW will. Could you imagine someone who would willingly let you contract something and didn’t tell you about it? If the LW doesn’t say anything, then how is she supposed to look at him in the eyes when she inevitably meets him? Tell him. This friend is selfish and completely irresponsible.

    And to whoever sarcastically asked earlier if you disclose a cold sore, yes, I do. Had one a few weeks ago and promptly let my boyfriend know when he came in for a kiss. He kissed anyway, so anything after that was on him. But my conscience is clear.

    CONSCIENCE – people should get one.

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  • avatar

    SpyGlassez October 4, 2011, 11:46 pm

    She could also just show him this video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4asdMekPdg

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark October 5, 2011, 12:11 am

    People like this make me angry. Not the LW, but her friend. It’s really fucked up to sleep around and NOT be able to face the consequences… This is why, I always am VERY safe and get tested with my partners…

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  • avatar

    the other guy October 5, 2011, 1:34 am

    When a guy gets into a relationship as opposed to a one nighter he assumes that the use of a condom is purely for pregnancy prevention not STD. Using a condom falls into the nasty but necessary category, what happens when/if during her cycle when pregnancy chances are nil/low and the guy asks to do it without a condom? Is she going to insist he wears one and have to give a reason or let him take the risk?

    I am firmly in the camp of telling him.

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  • avatar

    Friends with Both December 6, 2011, 4:29 am

    Thanks for the post. I am in a situation where I am friends with both the guy and girl. The girl just found out she has HPV and slept with my guy friend a couple of months ago. It was a one time thing, but unprotected. She found out earlier this week, but she didn’t want to tell him. I told her she needed to tell him, especially since he was possibly sleeping with other people. Days passed and she still hadn’t told him. I happen to run into him a few days ago. Even though I knew she would be pissed, I told him. Her being mad at me was the lesser of two evils in this case. My conscious would not rest if I didn’t say something. He needed to know in case he was with other people. I don’t regret my decision to tell him. She is now saying that she doesn’t have it, even though she told me she did have it. And, she originally told me she may have had it since last February! I think she is not wanting to deal with the fact that she has it because she thought she had a chance with this guy. In reality, it was a one-night stand that she instigated. I know for a fact that the guy was never interested in pursuing anything more. She has also slept with another guy friend of mine. Also, a one time thing and has not told him yet. This seems to be a very dangerous pattern she is developing. I told her she needs to tell him and that she needs to stop sleeping with my guy friends. I don’t even want to bring my guy friends around anymore. I know it is a two way street, but she is aggressive and seems to jump on the first guy that shows her any attention.

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    disturbed August 21, 2012, 6:04 pm

    I am in the situation as well. Good friend who is female has known for years she has genital warts (type of HPV) just told me about this on a road trip. She slept with a mutual friend and says they used a condom every time and so she never felt the need to tell him???? I think the likelihood that anyone would inform someone they ALREADY slept with is lower than the likelihood of informing them before. Obviously the other person has every right to be very angry. But I’m not sure what to do. I feel that I should tell him to get tested for himself and for the people he may be spreading it to. It’s really disturbing that she knows so little about her condition. She is a very intelligent person but has done little research on this. Maybe it just makes her feel awful and she would rather not know. Regardless, it was a huge wake-up call for me.

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