Pretend you meet someone you really like – be it at a bar, on a mobile dating app like Tinder, or on an online dating site like OkCupid – and you want to become more intimate with this person.
Do you ask about STD status? If the response is, "oh yeah, I just got tested, I’m good to go," do you ask for proof?
It’s an awkward conversation. But it’s a critical one, especially when an infection like gonorrhea – which has no symptoms – increased 13 percent between 2012 and 2013 in California. Chylamida - which also has no symptoms - decreased slightly during that period, but it’s still the most common STD in the state.
"I'll show you mine"
Today I reported on an app, called Healthvana, that allows users to access their STD test results online or on their phones, and share them with prospective partners, if they choose. The company bills itself as the modern version of, "if you show me yours, I’ll show you mine" for STD test results.
Start the conversation
Health consumers have expressed both excitement – and concern – about the app.
Some people I spoke with – especially those who use online dating sites like OkCupid or mobile dating apps like Tinder – thought the app was a great way to broach this topic.
Stefan, who lives in San Francisco and dates online, has used the app for a couple years. He told me he sends the link to his Healthvana profile to some prospective partners, and requests that they send one back:
"It makes this whole STD test conversation a lot easier, in the sense that you just need to exchange URL’s, and it does all the detail talks for you."
Zoe Klar, who lives in Los Angeles and has tried dating apps, thought it was a good idea to be open about STD test results. When we met at Sunset Beer in Echo Park, she told me:
"If that means publicly putting it on a dating profile, I think that’s a good way to get the conversation going."
I discussed this story with Patt Morrison on AirTalk this morning. One listener expressed concern that the app promotes casual sex. (Healthvana – and others who make similar STD apps – says they're just trying to help people stay healthy.)
Olivia wrote on the AirTalk page:
"If you are not able to have this serious conversation with your partner then you should not be sleeping with them… and also reevaluate your promiscuity."
AirTalk listeners also shared concerns about privacy. Bastani says your medical records are like your bank account – private, unless you explicitly choose to share it. He says some features – like ambiguous usernames and profile pictures – can help keep things anonymous, until partners meet in person.
On the AirTalk page, Ayana Green wrote:
"You can’t trust the supposed anonymity of the tests… Anything that’s electronically transmitted can be traced."
Olivia simply wrote:
"Technology has gone too far with this one."
Impatient readers, would you use this app? Have you had an experience where this app would have helped you? Do you have any concerns about using an app like this? Tell us about in the comments section below, or e-mail us at Impatient@scpr.org.