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Posted on March 5, 2020 in Sex Crimes

Are You Legally Required to Tell Someone You Have Herpes?

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) can be spread easily between partners. One of the more common STDs is herpes. If you have herpes, you may be wondering if you have to tell others that you have the disease before engaging in a relationship with them. On the other side, what do you do if someone infected you with herpes without your knowledge? Can you sue them for transmitting the disease to you?

Is it Illegal to not tell someone you have Herpes?

No, it is not illegal to not tell someone you have herpes. However, if you are in an intimate relationship with someone, it is best to let your partner know that you have an STD. This will allow you both to take precautions to minimize the spread of the STD.

It is also unlikely that you would win a case if you sued someone for infecting you with herpes. Oral herpes is often transmitted through non-sexual contact. Many people who are infected do not even know they have the disease. Unlike many other states, Arizona does not have specific laws that criminalize the spreading of an STD. While there have been some attempts to make it a crime, as of 2020, the action was still not criminalized.

While you are not legally required to let people know you have herpes, it may be possible that you could get in legal trouble for speeding the disease in certain circumstances. In Arizona, it is a misdemeanor offense to knowingly expose someone else to a contagious disease or infection in a public place. This means that you have to knowingly expose others and it has to be in a public place. This is unlikely to be the case for herpes, where most transmissions of the disease occur in a private setting.

The transmission of herpes could also be a result of a sex crime or sexual assault.  If this is the case, it may be possible for the prosecution to add on charges for knowingly spreading a contagious disease. They could also create additional charges under Arizona Assault and Battery or Aggravated Assault Laws. 

STD Basics

STDs, also known as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), are bacterial and viral illnesses that are most commonly spread through sexual intercourse. Some rarer STDs are also caused by parasites. Depending on the type, they can be widespread and highly contagious. Common STDs include HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital warts, and genital herpes.

If you suspect you have an STD, you should seek medical help. It is also important to have occasional STD screenings, especially if you are sexually active. Symptoms of some STDs may not show for several months or years. Waiting until you have symptoms could cause long-term negative changes to your health including damage to your reproductive organs, vision problems, and a weakened immune system.

While many STDs can be treated through medication, it is estimated that over 65 million Americans have some form of incurable STD. HIV and herpes are both viruses that become a chronic condition and they cannot be cured. HIV can be deadly if no medical treatment is given.

There are several high-risk factors. If you engage in any of these behaviors, you may be increasing your chances of catching or spreading an STD. These include using drugs that require a needle for injection, having multiple sexual partners, and not using a condom during sexual activity.

Herpes Basics

There are two types of the herpes virus: oral and genital. Both forms are incurable but can be managed with medication. Oral herpes is caused by the HSV-1 virus. Some people who are infected so no signs of the disease. The most common symptom is fever blisters or cold sores that appear around the mouth. Oral herpes is generally transmitted non-sexually and most people were infected at a young age.

Genital herpes is caused by the HSV-2 virus. It is widespread in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 Americans between the ages of 14 and 49 years are infected with genital herpes. Genital herpes can be spread through sexual contact. This includes oral sex with someone who has oral herpes.

For both types of herpes, outbreaks of sores happen intermittently. Someone could go years without displaying any physical signs of the disease. It is possible to become infected if you come into contact with someone who has the disease – even if they do not have any active symptoms.