What is the correct, legal, and ethical way to respond to a patient you have diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) from an extra-marital affair and requests that you do not report the condition to the spouse or other intimate partners? There are several ethical considerations in this kind of scenario to consider including patient confidentiality and autonomy versus the spouse's beneficence and non-maleficence.1,2 Not treating some STDs (like syphilis) can result in severe long-term consequences and even death. Even if this patient has a less severe form of STD, like genital Herpes simplex or genital warts, STDs are communicable, and not disclosing such information to intimate partners can cause harm to others. What role does the physician have in stopping the spread of STDs and protecting a patient's partner or partners? Herein we will provide a framework for physicians to approach this kind of scenario in an ethical manner.
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Publication stageIn Press Accepted Manuscript
Edited by Stephen P. Stone, MD
Funding sources: None.
Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.
Abbreviations used: STD: sexually transmitted disease
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