My girlfriend wants me to get tested for HIV before we go to the "next level." Can I just lie to her? What about other sexually transmitted infections?
Ronda Goldfein is executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania (www.aidslawpa.org).
A: Whether you should share private health information with a sexual partner depends on state laws and personal ethics.
In New Jersey, not disclosing a sexually transmitted infection - including HIV - is a crime. Pennsylvania has no such law. But in both states, you can be charged for exposing your partner to the infection through sex.
So far, our criminal system has not intruded much on the conduct of consenting adults.
In Commonwealth v. Cordoba, an HIV-positive man was charged with the felony of reckless endangerment for having sex with a negative man. Cordoba was acquitted, but not until the court ruled that it's allowed to charge a felony even if science doesn't support the possibility of harm.
According to testimony, one guy ejaculated on the other's chest. The CDC has found no cases of HIV transmission from such conduct.
That doesn't mean you are off the disclosure hook. In an ideal society, we all would be truthful with intimate partners. But an ethical standard works only if we all adopt the same standard.
In the end, each party to an event - whether it's dancing, contract signing, or sex - has an equal obligation to make sure it's done correctly. The decision on the "next level" should be based on personal responsibility.