Online dating websites tailored for singles with sexually transmitted diseases allow people to be upfront with potential partners and connect with dates who have the same STDs.
Websites like Positive Singles, STD Soulmates and STDMatch matches members with dates who have the same illness. Some, like H-YPE or H-Date, are aimed at singles with specific incurable STDs, like herpes, HIV, or HPV, which can cause genital warts.
“It provides a particular service to people who otherwise assume their dating life is over,” a consultant for the dating website Positive Singles, Steve Kasper, told the Daily News.
Kasper noted that disclosing an STD to a partner can be very difficult and this kind of website “eliminates some of the awkwardness.”
“You’re surrounded by people who understand you, who have been through what you’re going through,” he said. “It’s not just about dating, it’s a support group.”
PositiveSingles.com, created in 2007, now has over 700,000 users worldwide.
There are 20 million new STD cases reported every year in the U.S., for a grand total of 110 million overall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A great deal of stigma is attached to sexually contracted illnesses.
36-year-old Kate from Manchester, UK, told the BBC she thinks stigmas are attached to STDs because "people assume you've slept around.” However, many people get STDs from long term partners.
Fear of rejection can lead many people with STDs to stop dating altogether.
"I've had the chat with people before and they've not wanted to know, and whatever anyone says, it knocks you back, knocks your confidence. Even when you're let down politely, it affects you. It makes you realize that you are a bit different," says 50-year-old Mark of London, who has had both herpes and HPV for over 20 years.
“In this business, we’re trying to provide a platform for people to get what they want out of life. And that’s to be happy, and to find similar people,” Kasper said.