Having an STI can definitely complicate your love life. Case in point: More than 70 percent of men say they’d dump an HIV-positive partner, according to a 2017 study by online doctor service DrEd.
But dating sites such as HIVNet, a community for people living with HIV that launched in 2001, are trying to reduce the stigma.
“It was started for purely selfish reasons,” the site’s founder, Rick Burton, who is HIV-positive, tells Vice. “I thought it would last six months or a year.”
His community has lead to others, such as PositiveSingles (for people with HIV and herpes) and Hope (for people with herpes and other STIs)
The sites’ interfaces resemble Tinder in all but one way: They also give users the option to reveal their particular diagnoses.
These services are only for people with STIs, which has provided a refuge for daters looking to avoid stigma.
On mainstream dating Web sites, such as Plenty of Fish, 27-year-old Canadian John Anderson says he’s faced rejection since contracting herpes. But he says he’s found a safe space with these STI-friendly sites.
“The disclosure is stressful in the beginning, but then becomes almost empowering,” Anderson tells Vice. “You are with people who have been through exactly what you are going through and know exactly how you feel . . . It makes sending that first message to a girl much easier.”