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Forum Name: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Question: STDs and Confidentiality


 firbird - Fri Sep 26, 2008 9:26 am

Hi. I would like to know if a woman has tested positive for chlamydia, what the legal and ethical stance is regarding disclosure to her husband. Obviously, he is likely to be infected, so should he be told? I'm particularly interested in how this would be dealt with in the UK

thanks
 John Kenyon, CNA - Tue Oct 14, 2008 8:51 pm

User avatar Hello -

While I am not knowlegeable at all on British domestic and tort law, let alone an expert on law in general, I can tell you this much: the male partner of a woman infected with chlamydia can contract the condition also, and the potential for damage (as well as propagating and/or spreading the disease) is even more subtle than for the female sufferer. Ethically speaking, since he is likely to be infected, he certainly should be told. This is my personal opinion based on ethical principles only. Legally it's difficult to say for certain whether he would have any grounds for action if not informed, and even if he is informed, depending on the status of the relationship, he may have (and take advantage of) legal recourse available to him. If this is a concern, then an attorney should be consulted, perhaps prior to informing him; however, to not inform him implies potential damage to his person from the disease, and if the marriage is shakey, it may be seen, legally, as vindictive to keep the information from him, since it could permit others to become infected as well. Since the disease is often quite insidious early on, if one is unaware of having been exposed, this naturally increases the potential for damage.

Ethically I cannot see how witholding the information from one's husband could be defensible. Legally it is likely dangerous as well.

I hope this is helpful.

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