Backers of a new service which asks online dating site users to opt-in to receive updates from former partners who are diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections have welcomed the take-up among the gay community.
31,714 Gaydar members in the UK have opted in for the Sexual Health Messaging Service in the three months since it launched on 29 November last year.
The messages are also available on Fitlads, Recon and Manhunt.
But with 2.2 million Gaydar profiles registered in the UK, gay men’s health charity GMFA is urging more to opt in to the service.
GMFA’s Matthew Hodson said, “If you’ve ever been diagnosed with an STI you probably will have been encouraged to get in contact with as many shags from the last few months as possible.
“This can be really hard for some people, and no-one likes to ring their buddies, lovers or one-night stands to let them know they may have an STI. Our partner notification service is designed to make the task that much easier and now, with so many gay men on Gaydar opting into the system, the chances of contacting your partners are better than ever.”
The Sexual Health Messaging Service, sometimes referred to as Partner Notification, is funded by a grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Men diagnosed at a participating clinic can be given a unique code for use on the website.
There, contact information for recent partners can be typed in: mobile phone numbers, email or a profile name from a participating dating website.
They are then sent an automated message, alerting them to the fact that they should get themselves checked out.
The messages can be anonymous if you prefer, but backers say recipients are more likely to take action if the sender is identified.
Hodson adds: “STIs can make someone with HIV more infectious, and can make someone without HIV more vulnerable to becoming infected, so getting tested and treated if you have an STI, and encouraging your partners to get tested and treated too, can have a huge impact on the spread of HIV.”
According to Gaydar’s research, 99% of its members would want to be notified if somebody they had had sex with had been recently diagnosed with an STI.
When the service launched last year, Simon Johnson, product manager at Gaydar.co.uk told PinkNews.co.uk: “The GMFA Sexual Health Messaging service is an initiative we hope will empower our members to lead happy and healthy sex lives.
“It’s never easy telling a partner you’ve been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, but it’s an essential step in eliminating the risk of further transmission and seeking the correct treatment.”