Christians have ChristianMingle. Senior citizens have SeniorMatch. Now, people with sexually transmitted diseases have a growing number of specialty dating websites to choose from.
Matchmaking website H-YPE.com’s tagline is “a seriously cool place to make friends with sometHing in common.”
That thing is herpes, the STD that clinical psychologist Carl Hindy, in Nashua, N.H., says causes the biggest stir in dating because it’s permanent. The site also includes people with HPV, the human papillomavirus.
“A lot of my clients are looking for relationships and they are on dating websites like eHarmony and Match, but then the question is, ‘When do I tell him or her that I have herpes? If I tell them right away, that person is going to go away. But if I let the relationship develop and wait to tell the person, is that betrayal?’” Hindy says. “It makes dating really hard.”
There are more than 110 million sexually transmitted infections among men and women in the United States, and there are 20 million new infections each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Its report includes eight common sexually transmitted infections: chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B virus, herpes, HIV, HPV, syphilis and trichomoniasis.
“There are more and more sites being created catering to people who are infected,” says Diana Kirschner, a psychologist who wrote Find Your Soul Mate Online in 6 Simple Steps. “Part of the reason is that one in four women is infected with herpes. It’s off the charts, and there is a great deal of shame associated with being diagnosed with one of these diseases.”
To find a match on STD dating website PositiveSingles.com, a user enters typical dating site information: gender, age, location – and what infection they have. A drop-down menu offers a dozen sexually transmitted infections.
Positive Singles boasts of 60,000 matches. Other sites: MPwH.net (Meet people with H), positivesdating.com, stdmatch.net, hmates.com and stdfriends.com.
Hindy says he sees value in the websites but worries there could be a negative effect.
“They are looking at websites where everyone to date has herpes or another STD, but that seems sad in a way – to have to narrow the pool to just people who are infected,” Hindy says. “That seems to further stigmatize and ostracize. What comes to mind is leprosy colonies. These people are like you and I and everyone else.”
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