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Ask TEST SMARTLY LABS: Is it Illegal to Knowingly Spread a STD?

A Sexually Transmitted Disease or STD is a transmitted infection acquired through oral, anal or vaginal intercourse as well as genital touching. People from all walks of life can contract STDs, though certain populations are most at-risk.

People with STDs don’t always show signs or symptoms. Still, the infection can pass on to sex partners. That’s why condoms are necessary. In addition, STD testing is a crucial way to prevent the spread of infection. Once you have a confirmed STD, telling your sexual partners about the Sexually Transmitted Disease is advised so that person seeks an evaluation and treatment.

When it comes to knowing your STD status and preventing the spread of infection, it’s not only your sexual health on the line; it’s also a matter of legality. In some cases, it can be illegal to knowingly spread STDs.

Legal Implications of Spreading STDs

Prison Time for Knowingly Spreading STDs

State laws differ on the particulars, but generally, it is criminal to knowingly and recklessly spread STDs to others. Some states specifically single out which STDs are illegal to spread, with many carrying harsher punishments for transmitting HIV, since it can progress to life-threatening AIDS.

If You Spread an STD, You Could be SuedSexually Transmitted Disease in word collage

In California, if you have an STD and spread it to someone else, you can be sued. Direct deceit or simple negligence can lead to the spread of STDs, which can be emotionally, physically, and financially taxing on individuals. If someone with STDs — or with reasonable “constructive knowledge,” meaning they should know they have an STD due to obvious symptoms — has sex and infects another indivudual, the newly-infected person could have grounds to sue.


So does this mean that people with STDs can never have sex? No.

Some states have laws in place so that individuals with STDs can have consensual sexual contact with others if the others know about the STD. If the partner consents, the individual with an STD can’t be prosecuted for criminal transmission of an infection.

Keep in mind that these consent laws are not in place in every state, so if you have an STD, you should be aware of your state’s standing.

Protect Your Sexual Health & Stay Within the Law

Our take? The very best way to keep your sexual health and your arrest record clean is to stay vigilant with STD testing, use condoms, and be open about your sexual health with your partner(s).

If you or your sexual partner(s) are in need of accurate, confidential STD testing, visit your nearest TEST SMARTLY LABS today.

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