The Scoop: An STD diagnosis can severely hamper someone’s dating life. In addition to health worries, they also have to contend with the negative social stigma that a positive diagnosis brings. MeetPositives, a dating platform for STD-positive singles, takes the worry out of disclosure and acceptance. Instead of considering whether and when to share their positive status with a new partner, singles on MeetPositives are upfront about their diagnoses and ready to connect with like-minded people.
A 2018 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that 1 in 5 Americans, or nearly 68 million people, have an STD. That number is growing, with 26 million new diagnosed cases in 2018 alone.
What worries the agency is that many people aren’t aware they’ve been infected. People with STDs don’t always have symptoms, which means they may unknowingly pass on their diseases to new sexual partners.
For those who know they have an STD, dating can be especially challenging with the anxiety surrounding disclosure and acceptance. Not only do singles have to navigate revealing their positive status to new partners, but they also have to contend with negative stereotypes surrounding their diseases.
That’s why many singles turn to MeetPositives, a dating site designed exclusively for those living with STDs. Instead of worrying about disclosing their status, they can be upfront about their health issues because everyone on the site accepts them — and most are also positive.
STDs range from minor to life-threatening and include diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV. Untreated STDs can cause infertility and pregnancy complications, chronic pelvic pain, and other issues.
In addition to the health risks, those diagnosed may be marginalized in society, as well. STDs are highly stigmatized, in part because of social attitudes toward sex. Those perceptions can take a psychological toll on individuals with STDs. Hiding health issues from potential partners can also cause an increased risk of depression.
That’s why MeetPositives is so refreshing for singles because it offers a safe platform to find partners.
The Power of Knowing an STD Status From the Start
MeetPositives CEO Jack Lombardi was inspired to start the dating platform after seeing the harsh social stigma his STD-positive friend faced. Jack’s friend married a woman who seemed all wrong for him. Later, after they divorced, Jack asked why his friend married this person in the first place.
The friend confessed that in his first sexual experience, he contracted genital herpes. His dating pool became limited by his STD, so he ended up marrying the first woman who accepted him and his diagnosis.
“He felt isolated and didn’t have a lot of confidence. People need love, touch, and feelings. It’s already tough enough to date, and life throws so many curves at us that chip away at our self-esteem,” Jack told us.
To help his friend, Jack searched for a dating site for people with STDs and eventually found one. He put up a dating profile for his friend, who eventually met a woman who boosted his confidence.
Still, Jack described that dating platform as an afterthought. He wanted to create a more robust platform for positive singles.
Out of this mission, MeetPositives was born.
Jack has had many users tell him how much the platform means to them. One woman described how she started dating someone without an STD and spent all of her dates worrying that he wouldn’t accept her.
She wanted to tell him because her previous partner didn’t tell her. That worry polluted her entire relationship, she said. After using MeetPositives, she found a new outlook on life.
“She told us we were her second chance at life. It was so genuine. To go out of her way to say something like (that) let me know she had hope. A life without hope is a horrible life,” Jack said.
Building Relationships That Go Beyond the Stigma
When users join MeetPositives, their first step is to select a subscription level. Jack notes that some users wonder why the site is behind a paywall, preferring that positive people could join for free.
Besides needing to pay his team, Jack explains that the subscription model discourages snoopers who may use members’ STD status against them. If the site were free, people could join to learn private information about other users.
But MeetPositives is serious about safeguarding member privacy.
The website is encrypted with an SSL certificate that uses the more secure HTTPS protocol. Users can also communicate with each other using disguised phone numbers, so anyone can cut off communication whenever they choose.
“If you went out with somebody you didn’t like, a disguised number lets you cut the communication without them knowing your real information,” said Jack.
The site also has verification features that allow users to date without fear. The site verifies photos to ensure that the person in a photo is authentic.
“Members can report spam or bots. We give a stern warning, and if there’s a second event, we’ll block them. We don’t want our members to be harassed,” Jack told us.
MeetPositivies plans to add a feature soon that allows users to edit their photos to disguise or blur themselves and further mask their identities. Then, after a user trusts someone they’ve connected with online, they can share photos they don’t want all members of the dating platform to see.
MeetPositives is a Growing Community
As the 2018 report revealed, more Americans are being diagnosed with STDs every day. At any given nightclub, an average of four to six people have an STD, including HSV-1, or oral herpes that causes cold sores on the mouth and lips, or HSV-2, genital herpes.
Some of those individuals disclose their STD-positive status to sexual partners, but others aren’t even aware they have a disease. That contributes to the increasing number of STD-positive daters.
“There are a lot of people walking around with the virus who never know they have it,” Jack told us.
In the 10 years since MeetPositivies launched, it has grown in both membership and popularity. Singles living with STDs may also use the website as a support community.
“MeetPositives gives them a way to get into relationships successfully, or at least stack the cards in their favor,” Jack said.
The platform has been a place for singles with STDs to meet each other without worrying about the stigmas they may face on other sites. The dating platform even uses the slogan, “Never have the talk again,” to show how it helps combat the shame.
“So many people have told me about their STD status. It breaks my heart. The problem with dating with an STD is stigma, and I’m glad our platform helps them get away from that for a while,” Jack said.
Jack said he feels fulfilled, as well. He appreciates being able to help STD-positive singles like his friend find the love and commitment they thought they’d never find after their diagnoses.
“I’ve always been the kind of person who helps others. It’s just what I’ve been called to do,” Jack told us.