With dating apps have come the rise of hookup culture, with the rise of hookup culture has come a significant increase in STDs. In fact, they are now at an all-time high. While experts are positing a number of potential solutions to this issue, from more accessible testing to special STD-free badges on dating apps, there is one option that should be given more attention: STD-specific dating apps.

The History of STD-Specific Dating Apps

These apps and websites are not strictly theoretical; there are options that currently exist, and some of them have been around since the internet became widely accessible in the late 90s. The earliest versions of these sites were message boards for those with AIDs, allowing them to connect with others dealing with the same disease and form relationships without risking the health of others.

Sites for other incurable STDs soon followed. These then morphed into actual dating sites, with profiles and ways to directly communicate with the individuals users were interested in. Then as smartphones took over, apps were developed.

However, these services are not without their problems. One of the biggest is that many of these apps have been caught selling user information, including their STD diagnosis, with third parties. And some users report that rather than removing the stigma that comes with an STD diagnosis, many of these services actually reinforce it.

How STD-Specific Dating Apps Work

Every app and site has the option to work the way the owners want it to work, so there are no hard and fast rules. However, there are certain commonalities found often enough that they could be thought of as guidelines.

Services are restricted to those actively living with incurable STDs. Depending on the service, this might be a specific STD or just any that are incurable. Users may be asked to submit proof of having the STD before being given membership privileges.

Discretion is also key. These communities are meant, at least in theory, to be supportive of the users. As such, it is expected that they will not tell others in real life about the STD status of the people they meet through the service.

Current Options

While the services available may not be perfect, for many STD-positive individuals, they have been the key to a happy and fulfilling romantic life. Options currently available include:

  • Positive Singles
  • MPWH—Meeting People With Herpes
  • H-Mates
  • PozMatch
  • HPV Singles

Staying Safe

While connecting with people who have the same STD sounds like it would mean that sex would be safe, there is still the possibility that the partners found through these services will have other STDs. For those with incurable ones, catching others—curable or not—can be a major health problem. Users should protect themselves with barrier methods until they and their partner can get tested.

Remember: testing doesn’t mean you need to rush to the clinic. At-home STD testing options allow you to be protected and informed without the awkward doctor’s visit.