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@example.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.