I'm lucky that I've never had this experience, but I can only imagine that being single with an STI would be a special circle of hell.
Just picture it: You meet someone on a date, you hit it off right away, your connection is strong and the sexual tension between the two of you is palpable.
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But there's that little secret of yours that has to be shared. (It's only fair to be upfront and honest, right?) So you swallow your pride, take a deep breath and (shakily) tell him that you have an STI.
... and he totally rejects you.
Having an STI can leave you feeling dirty and ashamed, like a veritable pariah in the dating scene, and you feel resentful of the couples you see, because you think you’re never going to enjoy that connection — with your own special someone — that they've found in each other.
But if you have an STI, you're not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 110 million people live with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and 20 million more people are newly diagnosed every year, in the United States alone.
And because of this, more and more dating sites are popping up that cater specially to singles with STIs.
In the UK, Positive Singles has accumulated 100,000 new members worldwide since last year. Another site, DatePositive, has more than 6,000 profiles. These and other sites (H-YPE or H-Date) are aimed specifically at people who carry an STI and are looking for love. Much like other sites, they allow users to search for potential partners based on preferences like orientation, age, interests ... and sexually transmitted infection.
Some will question what sort of message this is sending — I imagine that they think this puts a positive spin on something that's negative — but isn't that sort of the point?
There's an undeniable social stigma when it comes to STIs. As a society, we tend to believe that the only way you could contract an STI is by being a reckless sexual deviant, but that simply isn't the truth. Many people contract STIs from their long-term partners when they find out their partner has been unfaithful (ouch, double the hurt). So shouldn't there be a rally of support for those people? All that these sites offer is an honest, open community ... and that's better than trying to hide, and therefore, spread their STIs.
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I think that people who have been diagnosed have enough to overcome … without being judged for wanting to find the connection that everyone else wants in life.
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