DEAR ABBY: Last year I found a bottle of Valtrex in my husband's car. He had been taking the medicine for months.
When I asked him about it, he lied. I was devastated when I realized I had been exposed to herpes. He actually tried to say he got it from me, but later he admitted that he had been stepping out with random women while working out of town. (He's a truck driver.) I had a blood test and thankfully I didn't catch it.
What is the doctor's responsibility in informing the spouse? I'm sure my ex is going to sleep around and infect others. We are divorced now, so I'm free of his lying and cheating, but I am fearful for others. He's so lowdown that he will spread it to other women and not care. Should I be concerned, or should I just leave it alone since he's not my problem anymore? -- HEARTBROKEN IN ALABAMA
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: Unless your husband gave his physician permission to reveal his medical status to you, the doctor was bound by HIPAA regulations, and by law could not warn you that your husband had an STD. (Yes, I agree this aspect of the law is disgusting.)
Much as you might wish to, there's nothing you can do to control your former spouse's behavior. My doctor tells me that herpes is most contagious during an outbreak. The risk is far less when the person is not shedding the virus. Valtrex further decreases the chances of spreading it, although it's still possible.
If the result of the blood test you were given was negative, then you have never been exposed. However, if you have any symptoms, such as itching or swollen lymph nodes in your groin, you should let your OB/GYN know right away.
DEAR ABBY: My 57-year-old sister has had many career problems. She's well-educated, personable, professional and punctual, but she quits or is let go from one job after another within weeks because "it wasn't a good fit." She seems to be holding out for what she had 25 years ago -- a well-paying position supervising clerks. But jobs like that don't exist anymore.
She's excellent at working with small children and the elderly and has significant experience doing so, but she believes such jobs are "beneath" her. I'm her only close relative, and I'm afraid she'll eventually turn to me for financial support -- something my husband and I cannot afford to provide. What can I do or say to make her realize that a steady job is what she really needs for the next 10 years? -- SENSIBLE SIB IN ARIZONA
DEAR SENSIBLE SIB: Tell your sister exactly what you have written to me: "Sis, what you need is a steady job for the next 10 years, because if you're counting on support from me, I'm telling you now my husband and I can't afford to give it to you." It's short, sweet, and it may be the wake-up call she needs before it's too late.
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