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STI dating services are almost always unethical money-grabs that prey on what seems like a potentially underserved niche market.This Silicon Valley opportunism is antithetical to real social change and progress.These companies are nothing but vultures, co-opting the language of activism. Herpes dating sites work by creating a community of herpes singles and providing a safe, anonymous, shame-free environment for them to interact in.The relationships that start with the premise “Hey I’ve got herpes too, let’s get a drink!” are usually short and predicated on nothing more than a false sense of familiarity.They say to the rest of the world that we belong apart, that we are less than, that we are a hilarious Positive Singles punch line. Maybe some people use them as a transitional tool before re-entering the wider dating sphere, and hey, cool, whatever. But they are just as often predatory environments where newly diagnosed men and women (but usually women) are bombarded with attention.Like other dating services, they can be unsafe spaces for women where harassment and coercion thrive.
Some of them bring on consultants in the sexual health world, but only after the fact, and by and large their founders do not come from our community.This is a play for legitimacy and access to my platform, and I’m super done with it.As soon as a company like Truster starts talking about how they’re going to eradicate herpes stigma in a naïve and ignorant Medium post, I need to play bad cop.Just because a product is built for women doesn’t make it feminist, and just because a product is built for people with STIs doesn’t mean it serves our causes. What we need is better sex education and health care, access to therapy and more representation.