Controversial Website Names People with STDs
Who hasn't been angry and bitter following a break-up, much less after contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD)? Who, on occasion, hasn't even fantasized about a little revenge? Well, NBC News reports that now a controversial website will allow users to take that revenge by naming and shaming people who have STDs. Site creator and administrator Cyrus Sullivan launched STDCarriers.com last October after he caught herpes from an ex-girlfriend.
Underneath the tagline "Click it before you stick it," which is festooned with biohazard symbols, the homepage states, "STD Carriers is the International List of People with HIV, AIDS, Genital Herpes, Genital Warts, HPV, and Hepatitis C. Our list includes infected people in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia." The site's mission statement provides the following rationale: "Listing the names of people infected both provides a warning to potential victims of dishonest partners and informs former partners of diseases that they may have been exposed to and unknowingly carry."
Currently, there are more than 450 people listed on the site. The listings include such information as name, age, gender, physical characteristics, ethnicity, sexual orientation, known STDs, and, in some cases, photos and links to news stories about the individuals who are referred to as "carriers." Sullivan claims that his site performs a public service. “If this site had existed in its current state a little over a year ago,“ he says, “I would have been able to look this girl up and I wouldn’t be having to shell out money for Valtrex every month.“ Sullivan is even listed and pictured (above right) as one of the STD carriers. The site also features a list of celebrities with STDs as well as space for profiles of those who claim to be free of disease. Nobody has yet created one of these profiles.
We can think of nothing more irresponsible as a response to STD infection than creating an unreliable database full of dubiously obtained and suspect information about the personal lives of people. Peggy Anderson, Executive Director of the Columbus AIDS Task Force in Columbus, OH, believes that the site does the public a disservice on many levels. She believes that such listings, which can never be comprehensive, create a false sense of security over who has and who doesn't have an STD. Furthermore, she adds that publicly naming individuals with STDs can have a significant and unintended impact. "I’ve seen people lose their jobs, lose their housing, be kicked out of their families, their churches,“ she says of her years working with the HIV community. “And I just think putting any information out there, even if it is real, you are hurting people.“ Sullivan doesn't buy that argument. “That’s ridiculous,“ he says. “That is a flaw in the people that do those types of things to people. You should never throw someone out of their house or disown them just because they have HIV or any medical condition.“ Yes, Mr. Sullivan, you should never do things like that, but unfortunately, the reality is that people face situations like that all too often.
[Editor's Note: For some tips on how to inform a sexual partner of an STD, see Truth and Consequences by Dr. Charles Moser and Janet Hardy.]