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DEAR ABBY: On July 13, you responded to someone asking whether friends should tell friends anonymously that their spouse is cheating. You advised that if someone is not willing to include their name, they should mind their own business.

One of my dear friends from church didn't get a letter or a phone call during her marriage to her husband, who cheated on her constantly. What she did get was HIV-positive status, later full-blown AIDS and then death. Her husband was positive when she became pregnant, and her son was also born positive.

I believe that if someone knew and had told her, she might have been able to use protection. I'm sure she wouldn't have minded the person not revealing his or her name as much as she minded being blindsided by her husband concealing his illness.

Personally, I'd want to know if I were living a daily life based on lies and deception. Had someone spoken up, perhaps my friend would still be alive. -- MIMI IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR MIMI: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your friend. And thank you for sharing your compelling story. Other readers responded to that letter with equal passion. Read on for a sample:

DEAR ABBY: My ex-husband was a cheater who ended up "sharing" his STD with me. I would have been eternally grateful to anyone who stepped up and told me about the affairs.

Unlike the wives you referenced in your answer, I was in a position to deal with it. I dealt with it as soon as I knew, but if someone had disclosed it to me earlier, perhaps I wouldn't have experienced the humiliation of an STD, or the lies of a spouse telling me how much he loved me while sleeping around behind my back. The truth is always the best policy. -- MICHELLE IN UTAH

DEAR ABBY: I feel the best way to save a marriage involving a cheating spouse is to directly address it with the cheater. This allows the person to "come clean" to the spouse. When the unsuspecting spouse hears it from another source, it's like a double blow -- everyone else knows but the one being cheated on.

The marriages I have seen survive are those in which the cheater is able to confess to the infidelity, own up to the indiscretions and promise not to interact with the other offender. From experience, I know it is not an easy road back, but it's worth every step. -- SARA IN SPOKANE

DEAR ABBY: Two close friends of mine married young. They were immature and struggled to find their footing in the relationship. During the first year, unbeknownst to each other, they both had one-night stands, which they confided to me separately. I believed that imparting that information to anyone would only hurt people for no purpose, so I kept it to myself.

I'm glad I did. They wound up growing as individuals and as a couple, and they have been happily married for 20 years. I have no doubt that if I had spilled the beans, it would have promptly ended the union. I'm convinced that were I to do it now, it would serve only to create unnecessary pain where there is joy. -- TIGHT-LIPPED TESSIE

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