One of my most popular articles I’ve ever published on this blog is the website review of The Positive Connection, a website for those HIV Positive written in 2005. The website helps those with HIV find partners with the same condition for romantic relationships. While conducting my initial research into online industry 2004-2006 I met and interviewed the owners of most online dating websites.
Ben Sassman, the founder of The Positive Connection website, is the only one that eluded me. At some point we made contact but he was not willing to do an interview. At that point I was in a rush to publish my research findings, so I did not push to hard.
His website was offline for a period and I realised many of the people who found my 2005 blog post, simply could not find the website the review was about. People wanted to connect potential HIV positive partners, no matter what. At first the comments were requests for help. Eventually men began posting cellphone numbers and to protect the women, I deleted them. Women also began posting their cellphone numbers and locations across South Africa. There was no way for me to verify who was genuine or sincere, or who really was HIV positive.
The more I read the comments, it seemed a desperate attempt to find another HIV positive person because of a self-imposed loneliness. Most of these people were not trying to find a spouse, with cynical and resigned words they used. Even if you are diagnosed with HIV, it is possible to live a long life with the correct medical treatment and wellness program to boost your immune system.
In many ways this is a very personal matter for me because my best friend was in a relationship with a HIV+ woman for 3 years. He tested himself once a year, and remains negative even after they ended their relationship. Because of the seriousness of the condition, anyone looking for love online must take a reality check.
After 10 years of online dating and social networking, I now believe that the risks of meeting people online outweigh the perceived benefits. I am more pessimistic about online relationships because of the false sense of connection and security, the superficial nature of relationships based on social media. People who are HIV positive can increase their confidence by turning to speed dating and other forms of events to meet people form the opposite sex.