Good Rainy Friday to you all,
Before I start this post, I should say that this one isn’t teribbly HIV related, but more of a general life diary entry… now let’s begin.
I’ve been on online ‘dating’ sites for a very long time now, probably longer than I should have really, I joined a certain one when I was 13 and caused all sorts of havoc for the owners/admins – and since then the number of websites I’ve used has grown and grown until I couldn’t keep track of them.
I’d get home of an evening and check my twitter and Facebook, then I’d head onto gaydar, dudesnude, fitlads, manhunt, gayromeo, recon, and a few others which I can’t even remember. I’ve been doing this for nearly 3 years now and where has it got me? Nowhere really. I’ve dated three guys, one of which was an ass and two of which were bat crap crazy.
So last week I took the decision to leave all these sites behind, it was both therapeutic and a little scary logging onto each site one by one and deleting my profiles – some I’ve even been paying for. Shortly after I’d done away with my last profile I began to worry about what I’d just done, had I put myself at a disadvantage for finding someone special? But then I recalled the general quality of messages of I got on these sites – usually photos of people’s crotches but no faces, or elderly gentlemen offering to be “generous” to me. That’s not really the kind of attention I’m after.
During Birmingham Pride (at the weekend) I met an awesome guy, and we hit it off pretty spectacularly. This without the use of the internet, or being asked “what you upto?”, or ”what you into?” or even the less common but still awful “ASL?”. Now before you get ahead of yourself, I don’t know if anything is going to happen with this guy I met over Pride, but I’m secretly hoping it does – he’s very hot and very very lovely.
I feel for honestly and completeness I should say that I’ve retained my Grindr profile, purely because it’s a great way to chat to my mates for free, and it’s a laugh at train stations when you’re bored.
I’m not entirely sure what to use my computer for now I don’t log on to all those sites, I’m sure I’ll find a purpose though – it makes a rather handy mirror with the webcam…
In my previous post I talked about my use of technology to aid my quest for love. Dating technology has evolved over time; from dating agencies and singles ads in newspapers, onto phone chat lines, texting services and onto dating/hook-up websites (such as gaydar, fitlads, manhunt etc). The latest technology to be adopted for this purpose is the smartphone – there are countless apps promising to help you find love, make friends or just get a little action.
The most popular one of these (amongst the gay community at least) is Grindr. For those of you who are unfamilar with Grindr – you create a profile with your stats, add a photograph and a short welcome message and in return Grindr shows you other guys logged in near your location by use of GPS. You can message the guys, swap pictures etc. All very cool. I’ve been on Grindr since it was launched. I’ve always been at the cutting edge, trying new apps and gadgets as soon as they come out. My profile has remained largely the same, my age has changed with the years and my photograph has been updated a few times.
I started wondering last weekend (25th Feb 2012) what kind of responses someone would get if their profile said that they were HIV+. So I created myself a second profile on Grindr, almost identical to mine in (but different enough to look like a different person), still looking for “Friends, fun and dates” – but this time I mentioned my HIV status in the profile text.
Over the course of the week (25 Feb – 03 Mar) my existing profile received messages from 74 users. On the other hand my (almost identical) profile that mentions my HIV status had 11 people message it. Four of those eleven messaged purely to ask me questions about HIV and one felt it necessary to send me foul mouthed abuse for seemingly no reason. Which leaves me with six people actually showing an interest in me.
Let’s look at that for a second shall we? That’s a 92% reduction in interest purely by mentioning my HIV status. It was this realisation that led to a few miserable tweets on Saturday night, sorry if you had to put up with those. I thought we were really making progress. The more things change eh?
Launched a year ago MyHIV.org.uk (run by THT and funded by EJAF) has developed into an amazing online resource for people living with HIV in the UK, regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. The site boasts a myriad of tools to help you manage your HIV and to make new friends, these include:
- The Forums. Now with over a thousand members the forums are a busy and lively place to make new friends, find peer support, ask questions, arrange social events and find out HIV related news – and coming soon a ‘Looking to meet’ HIV dating section.
- One to one online counselling, advice and health training. Speak directly, one on one in a private chat room with a qualified counsellor or HIV professional. Get honest, friendly and useful advice on relationships, benefits, housing, health and more.
- Text and email alerts. Get personalised medication alerts direct to your mobile phone or email account. We all lead busy lives and it can be very easy to let medication slip, so keep on top of it with text/email alerts.
- CD4 and Viral Load tracking. Input your latest clinic results directly into the MyHIV website to create a real time graph of your progress through treatment. This will help you see how your treatment is working over the long term, something that can be harder to appreciate with just numbers.
- My Life check. A set of four mini quizes that you complete every six months or so, that help flag up any gaps in your understanding or potential issues that you may not have noticed yourself.
- Your Stories. A section dedicated to video and written experiences from real people with HIV in and around the UK.
In the coming months MyHIV will also be launching its very own iPhone application, allowing you to access the online resources of MyHIV, as well as the forums, on the move wherever you happen to be.
Over 2,700 people have registered with MyHIV.org.uk since its launch. I’m proud to be one of those people, the forums enabled me to make contact with other HIV positive people for the first time, and the online counselling has helped me out of some very dark times. It’s free to join, so what’ve you got to lose. Sign up and meet some truly amazing people.
So please, join me in congratulating MyHIV.org.uk and the wonderful team behind it on this great success. Here’s to many more years to come.
Just a quick blog post to welcome you all to my new website!
I’ve moved my blog from wordpress.com over to a fully hosted website, here at UKPositiveLad.com – I’ll be maintaining my blog as I have done in the past, and in addition you’ll see new content appearing, such as news articles, useful links, event listings, interviews, guest posts etc.
So have a mooch around the new site, and keep your eyes peeled for developments. Those of you who had subscribed will have to resubscribe to this new site.