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Dating Websites for Singles with Sexually Transmitted Infections

March 2, 2008

Dating websites for people with STDs (or in the more modern parlance, STIs) might be a sound business model, given rising rates of some STIs, but are users getting a good deal? If you’re not familiar with this phenomenon, they are your normal dating site, but are specifically intended for use by people with infections such as herpes, HPV, and HIV. Nerve magazine has a piece up on the topic, and explores whether these services liberate users from the stigma of sexually transmitted infections and potentially embarrassing proclamations, or if they might actually increase stigma by suggesting that “those persons are different and not normal, requiring exceptional means to meet other partners.”

The article fails to mention one major concern people might have about using a site like this: privacy. One person quoted for the piece notes that he hasn’t posted a picture on his profile for fear of being recognized. However, I would worry about general data theft, and unscrupulous users capturing and sharing the information. What’s to stop an insurance company from setting up a fake email address and profile to ferret out “pre-existing conditions?” It wouldn’t be as large a concern if there weren’t such a stigma around STIs, but there is, and I suspect many users wouldn’t want their data released to non-participants of the sites. I am not familiar enough with these sites to fully understand what safeguards are in place, but I am fairly confident that at least one person could find a way around them to use the data for unsavory means.

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