Apps like Grindr and Scruff cater to gay men looking for casual sex, but new research finds the men who utilize them are more at risk to STDs than men who meet their partners in nightclubs.
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Each participant was tested for STDs and later quizzed on details like how they met up with casual sex partners and how often. One-third of the men indicated only meeting such partners through a club or bar — in other words, in person. Meanwhile another 30 percent used a combination of the bar approach and some form of online dating.
Thirty-six percent, however, specifically identified using mobile apps like Grindr and Scruff. These services connect gay and bi-curious men with other nearby prospective partners, often based on cellphone proximity. Prevention programs must learn how to effectively exploit the same technology and keep pace with changing contemporary risk factors for [sexually transmitted infections] and HIV transmission.
Beyond that, Ii's easy to feel alienated or unwanted when a bombshell lingers over every flirt, making it only natural that many Americans turn to dating apps targeted specifically at the positive community. As such, these sites offer safe harbor for folks like John Anderson. A couple years ago, he took home a one-night stand from a friend's house party, and soon after contracted Herpes.
Anderson immediately deleted his Tinder and Plenty of Fish accounts. It was a dark few months—he returned to mainstream online dating briefly, but was quickly rebuffed by a few potential matches after his status was revealed, and has not been back. Rattled by those rejections, he signed up for PositiveSingles, believing it offered a better shot at a long lasting relationship.
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People who have thought similar thoughts and reacted in ways you can sympathize with. It makes sending that first message to a girl much easier.
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Beyond the simple disclosure, though, Anderson says the site also offered an unexpected peace of mind. Lindsay Connors, 35, feels much the same way. She found out she was HIV positive in , and tried a few targeted dating networks in the early days of her diagnosis. Back then, she found a small pool of users and limited heterosexual options, and so has dated "normally" a phrase she uses, but also hates since, and tells me almost everyone she's ever slept with or dated has been negative.
But recently, after the dissolution of a five-year relationship, she felt compelled to sign up at PositiveSingles. Connors has a good support system: She's a veteran survivor with plenty of people in her life that know her status, but recently she's found herself on dates with men who have been positive for less than a year, and are just as freaked out as she was as a year old.
Dating Apps for People with STDs Offer a Safe Space
They basically just dating tools like the rest, but a negative person's relationship to Tinder is very different from a positive person's relationship to these communities. On the former, there is no shared experience in swiping right or swiping left beyond the desire for sex or romance. But sites like HIVNet, Hope, and Poz are built as safe spaces, corners of the Internet where positive people can connect with those experiencing similar fears.
People sign up for dating sites to hook up; people sign up for STD dating sites to feel recognized—and then hook up.
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Rick Burton learned he had HIV on an answering machine in the middle of the night. Back then, he had no access to counseling, therapy, or anything else. The infrastructure is better now, and he believes websites like his own helped make it so.