Are Incurable STDs/STIs an Impediment to Marriage?

This question was inspired by this thread on contraception but it’s different enough I felt it should get its own thread.

The title is the main idea behind the thread, but I think I also have several other questions that are part of it:

  1. Is a person with a sexually transmitted disease that is presently incurable (e.g. HIV) required to refrain from sexual relations?

  2. Would a person who contracted a presently incurable STD prior to marriage, regardless of how it was contracted, be able to get married?

  3. Is it morally permissible for a spouse to accept the risk of transmission of disease to self (and possibly children that result from the marriage)?

I know impotence is an impediment to marriage, but in the case of a disease, the sexual act can still be performed (but it would be unwise to do so.) I also know that the risk of transmission can be cut rather significantly even without contraceptives (some of the cocktail therapies for HIV, for instance, are incredibly effective). I also know that “life’s not fair,” as it was stated in the other thread, but a person can be infected by an STD through absolutely no fault of their own, and it seems rough to say to that person, “Too bad this happened to you, now you can’t get married” (though some people are rendered unable to marry by disability - either that prevents the ability to consent or perform the marital act).

I am just mulling this over and am curious to see if there are any answers about this situation in particular. My own perspective as a layperson would suggest that it’s permissible, but not advisable.

Required, no. There is nothing in Church teaching or law that states anything of the sort.

Now, that said, prudence would dictate that a person with an incurable, terminal, communicable disease/illness that is spread by sexual contact and can also be passed mother to child has the prudence and wisdom to come to such a conclusion on their own or to seriously consider celibacy for the sake of others they would infect.

But ultimately, if they and their spouse/potential spouse come to the conclusion that they are both freely willing to engage in intercourse, they may of course do so. What they may not do is contracept.

Yes, provided they are able to consummate the marriage and that they also do not have a permanent intention against children. They also, of course, cannot contracept.

Yes. Again, the virtues of prudence and wisdom should be exercised.

I don’t believe anyone said that.

No one did, sorry if I was being unclear. “Life’s not fair” was said in the other thread. I just meant that as a kind of summation of what it could be like for a person being told that they were not able to get married, especially through no fault of their own. But that can apply in more than just this specific situation.

Thanks for the info. That’s basically what I figured, but wasn’t sure if anything had ever been “officially” said on the matter.

I’m the one that said it. :slight_smile:

Yes, sometimes that is the answer. We live in a broken, fallen world due to Original Sin and sometimes things happen to us that are not fair. Your example of a person rendered impotent by an accident or disease, and who therefore cannot validly contract marriage, is an example. It is no fault of their own, it simply is. It does not change the fact that they now have an impediment to valid marriage. It is not fair, and it may be hard to accept, but it is what it is.

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