And since these sites’ only criterion for joining was an STI diagnosis, members didn’t really have that much in common aside from their diagnosis, which many seemed obsessed by.Ellie noted that “it was more of a group therapy site than a dating site.When Ellie* was diagnosed with herpes in her senior year of college, she was convinced the infection was a “death sentence” for her dating life. “I was being turned down by men who had every intention of sleeping with me until they found out,” Ellie told me over email.Hoping to improve her prospects, or at least connect with people in a similar position, Ellie turned to the internet.(MPWH staff do contribute posts to the site, but they can be poorly written and full of misspellings, hardly an encouraging sign for site members.) As a result, these sites merely serve to segregate people who have herpes from people who don’t (or don’t admit it), further cementing the erroneous idea that a common viral infection somehow makes a person permanently unfuckable—when, in fact, a combination of medication, condoms, and avoiding sex during outbreaks can make sex with herpes fairly safe (certainly much safer than sex with someone who blithely assumes they’re STI-free). Not surprisingly, education, honesty, and openness about the topic of herpes.Ann*, who contracted herpes the first time she had sex, noted that “with [roughly] 20 percent of the population having HSV2 there should be way more faces to click on.” This points to another issue with these sites: whether because of ignorance, stigma, or some combination of the two, many people living with herpes either don’t know about, or won’t admit to, their infection, further fueling the cycle of stigma, ignorance, and shame.This is not to say herpes condemns you to a depressing, dateless existence.But despite the promise of community and support, she found that STI-focused dating sites just made her feel worse.
Nothing about it was sexy.” Positive Singles markets itself as an open forum for dating, but in practice can feel more like a cliquey support group.
More troublingly, the sites seemed less likely to unite people with STIs than to divide them into cliques.