Hey, it’s a cruel world out there and anyone bandying about phrases about how it’s ‘empowering being single’ or ‘it’ll clear up in three to five days’ whilst looking vaguely pitying, might as well be mentally confining you to a life of sexlessness - or so it can feel.But with the number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) rising in the UK each year, it’s not only those who wear a lot of zebra print and have a working knowledge of the Wetherspoons’ toilet cubicles that are affected, as urban myths would have you believe.A brief glance at the statistics will paint a very different picture: almost 500,000 new cases of STIs were diagnosed in 2012 in the UK; more than 90,000 were living with HIV and one in two people under 25 tested positive for Chlamydia.Meanwhile studies show that one in four students catch a sexual infection during their first year of university; three quarters of sexually active women will contract HPV in their lives and by the age of 30, 50 per cent of people will have contracted HSV-1 and 25 per cent of the sexually active, HSV-2. Sign up and along with ‘enjoys yoga,’ you also enter your STI into your profile.Let’s face it: it sounds like a bizarre concept, but even if the stigma attached to STIs is hideously out-dated and redundant (it is), there’s no denying how difficult it can be telling a potential sexual partner about something you have contracted sexually from someone else. “I don’t have the confidence to simply broadcast my condition,” he says.There are few things in life less sexy than genital lesions. Through this site and events it sets up, he has managed to “gain a better understanding” of herpes as well as providing the same support for others.It’s precisely the lack of support available that led Max (who didn't wish for his full name to be made public) to set up H-YPE! He believes it’s the stigma that is making the sites so popular. are important because they enable people with herpes or HPV to find answers to their burning questions in a safe and secure environment.” In fact, with all the members I spoke too, society’s general ignorance towards STIs was what caused them to sign up; they’ve become a source of company, advice and support.For some, they’ve even given the hope for a future of marriage and children that they thought lost to them when first diagnosed.
Positive Singles boasts of 30,000 registered UK members - while Herpes Dating says it has 794,600 members – with more than 60,000 dating success stories.But an STI like herpes you can have without even realising (one in five, to be precise, don’t, with three in five having such mild symptoms it’s unlikely even to be diagnosed).