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Dating Websites for People Living With STDs: Are They Worth It?

By Candace Y.A. Montague

December 19, 2013

So you hear health experts say all the time that knowing your status and disclosure are a few of the best ways to help stop the spread of HIV and other STDs. OK. You get that. What they don't address is how to overcome challenges that may come with having "the talk" with partners.

Dating, in general, generates questions. You're open for love and romance but you want to protect your feelings as well. Who do you trust? How will it turn out when you tell a potential mate that you have a virus? Many people with HIV and other STDs have turned to niche dating websites to help them find a date. These websites are specifically designed to practically eliminate the need to have "the talk" with a potential mate. But can you trust it? Maybe.

It can be tricky to figure out if a person behind an avatar is genuinely a good person or if they are someone with bad intentions. Proceed with caution. There are many single people in the world like you who want to date. There are many people like you who are apprehensive about new relationships, with and without an STD. alone has made 60,000 matches. And with more than 110 million sexually transmitted infections among men and women in the United States, and there are 20 million new infections each year, there is a clear need for these kinds of websites to exist.

You must use common sense when using dating websites period. Specialized dating websites are just like any other site. You create a profile. Select a picture. Pay a fee. Engage in chats with people on line. And if you feel like it's going somewhere you make arrangements to meet. But be safe. Just like any other dating website, there are people who may mean you harm. It's hard to tell the difference.

I compiled some "best of" dos and don'ts for online dating from, Huffington Post and

  • Be very upfront about who you are and what you're looking for. Your profile will do the talking as far as what your disease is so don't worry too much about that. Are you a football fan who loves watching games on Sundays and would like to have a mate to share your joy? Maybe you love theater and are seeking someone to just hang out with at shows, no more, no less. Maybe you're looking to settle down with "the one." Say that.
  • Do not give out your direct contact information to anyone you don't know. No cell phone numbers, home or work addresses, or references to places you frequent often. It's just not safe. Also, avoid giving too many details about your future travel plans. "Me and the girls are going to Liberty Ski Lodge next Wednesday through Saturday." No.
  • If you plan to meet with a potential mate in person and are comfortable, use a real-life, up-to-date photograph of yourself when you can. It's kinda hard to spot you in a crowd when your profile picture is a caricature of someone else. If you are concerned with safety or you're just looking for friendship, you may want to consider leaving your avatar blank until you decide on something else later.
  • Do you Skype or use some other video call service? If so, this could be a good time to use it. It can help break the ice a bit more and help you get over the awkwardness of a first date conversation before you actually meet. By the time you have a face-to-face meeting, you may be on a roll and have much more to talk about. And if it doesn't work out, no harm no foul. At least you didn't waste any gas to get there.
  • Speaking of the meet up, use a few safety tips. Meet in a well-populated, public place. Provide your own transportation. Let someone know where you're going and whom you're meeting. In fact, give them a time to expect your call so they will know you're OK.
  • Trust your gut. If it doesn't feel right, don't force it.

Dating with an STD is not easy but you can do it. And yes it can lead to a wonderful relationship. Consider trying a niche dating website along with other dating websites and see how it suits you. It may just lead to many happy returns.

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D.C. HIV/AIDS Examiner

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague

Candace Y.A. Montague has been learning about HIV since 1988 (and she has the certificates from the American Red Cross to prove it). Health is a high priority to Candace because she believes that nothing can come of your life if you're not healthy enough to enjoy it. One of her two master's degrees is in Community Health Promotion and Education. Candace was inspired to act against HIV after seeing a documentary in 2008 about African-American women and HIV. She knew that writing was the best way for her to make a difference and help inform others. Candace is a native Washingtonian and covers HIV news all around D.C. She has covered fundraisers, motorcycle rides, town hall meetings, house balls, Capitol Hill press conferences, election campaigns and protests for The DC and emPower News Magazine.

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