A University of Alabama football player has made headlines for knowingly spreading a sexually transmitted disease (STD) on his college campus.  Elijah Pritchett has been charged with a Class C Misdemeanor and is facing fines and up to three months in jail. The charges seem pretty light, but having your name based all over the media as an STD-haver probably factors into the punishment as well.

That's Alabama, but what about Texas? Could you be charged for spreading an STD in Texas? The answer is "Yes" and "No" depending on the circumstance. One Midland, Texas man was sentenced to 120 years for spreading a STD. 

In 2013, a Midland man was sentenced to 120 years in prison – two consecutive 60-year sentences – for knowingly transmitting the HIV virus to four women.

Other men have been tried and convicted for knowingly spreading HIV. They were charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, as HIV is a potentially life-threatening disease.

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If you give your partner an STD/ STI, do you have any defense in Texas, or are you going to face punishment? It depends.

First, it should be known that there is no law in Texas requiring you to disclose if you have an STD/ STI to your partner. However, since, "it is illegal to knowingly or recklessly transmit an STD" you could face criminal charges if they catch it from you and you didn't tell them.

If you do tell your partner and they agree to sex anyway, you have a valid defense. Additionally, if you did not know you had an STD/STI when you spread it, that could also spare you criminal charges.

Of course, the best course of action- and the only ethical one- is to know your STD/ STI status before engaging in sexual activity with a new partner. Free/low-cost testing is available in many places in Texas, so there's no excuse not to know. And when you do know, you can receive treatment to either cure the STD/STI or to mitigate symptoms to lead as healthy of a life as possible. It's a win/win.

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