South African Site Helps People With HIV Find Love
July 26, 2006
Now in its third year, the Web site Positive Connection was launched by South African Ben Sassman as a way to help an HIV-positive friend who had trouble getting dates. "Once he disclosed his status, the girl would usually run away," said Sassman, who suggested his friend try online dating. But in cyberspace, too, the problem of disclosing his status remained.
In September 2003, Sassman, who is married, spent $4,000 of his own money to start the site. Positive Connection's introduction explains that the site seeks to "eliminate the stress and emotional difficulty of disclosing your status to your partner." If two people meet on the site, said Sassman, "you're both in the same health boat, and you can just go on with the date and not worry about disclosing. Therefore, there is no emotional pressure explaining your current health status. I thought it would add a little class to how they can meet new and interesting people."
Since its launch, Positive Connection has added resources on HIV/AIDS research, support groups, health and drug tips, and updates from the US Food and Drug Administration. Efforts to secure advertising have progressed slowly, however: "Lots of companies do no want to associate their brand names or their company names with HIV/AIDS," Sassman said.
Positive Connection now gets about 4,000 visits a month. The 492 people who have gone through the free registration process include 291 South Africans plus people from other African nations, Canada, and the United States.
For more information, visit www.thepositiveconnection.co.za.
Agence France Presse
07.26.06; Coumba Sylla
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.