Social networking and dating website for HIV-positive gay men, Volttage.com, launched this week with nearly 600 new members on Monday. Co-creator, AIDS activist and Project Runway star, Jack Mackenroth says, “Sex sells, but we are much more than a hookup site.” The site is different from other similar social sites for same-sex loving men as it goes further than just dating or “romantic encounters,” by combating stigma and plans to create a database of information, support, and resources for gay men who are a part of the international HIV-positive community.
Mackenroth, who appears on the site with other HIV+ models says, “We provide an alternative for HIV+ men who often feel stigmatized and discriminated against on the other sites. As the site develops and grows, we will incorporate features like forums and blogs that will strengthen a sense of community and acceptance.” The site also differs from other sites because it doesn’t ask members to reveal their HIV status (though it is clear that the site is for HIV+ men and their supporters).
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“We take the stance that everyone should assume their partner is HIV positive and proceed accordingly,” explains Mackenroth. “Asking someone their status is rather pointless, as people may not know or even lie about it to avoid rejection. We encourage members to be out and proud but we understand that the stigma can be prohibitive so members control all of their own content. I hope that the sense of community will help members ‘come out’ about their status over time.”
With free profiles on Volttage.com, members will have the opportunity to communicate with like individuals. Volttage.com will include desktop and mobile versions of the site and use geo-location, to help members find similar individuals nearby. A staff physician, New York-based Dr. Frank Spinelli, will answer frequently asked health questions and update monthly blogs.