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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.

The information presented on the site is submitted by site users. The site does not verify the accuracy of the submitted data, and the following disclaimer appears on the site: "[The site] does not assert that any person listed does in fact have a sexually transmitted disease or that statements made about them are true.“ According to the site's Legal Section, “Information is published by users who agree to the Terms of Use and then insert information into our database. As part of this agreement users assume full responsibility for the information that they publish.“ But what happens if your name erroneously appears on the list? The site's Fraud Policy instructs such individuals to contact the original poster of the information or to submit the results of STD tests to the site administrator (Mr. Sullivan), who, at his discretion, will remove incorrect information.

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.

The legal statements, the terms of use, and the fraud policy on STDCarriers.com have all been written to minimize or negate Sullivan's responsibility for the information presented. There is nothing on this site except blame and bitterness and the potential to damage a lot of lives. Nobody wants an STD. Certainly, there are those out there who would willingly infect others, but there's also a measure of responsibility that needs to be taken by all parties during a sexual encounter, including taking the personal responsibility to protect yourself as best you can or suffer the consequences. We urge Sullivan to take down this site, which promulgates only ugliness and bitterness!

[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.]

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PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

I fInd it ironic Mr. Sullivan's picture is in a cap and gown which supposedly indicates some degree of intelligence. Sadly, however, Mr. Sullivan cannot summon the intelligence required to see his own culpability in acquiring an STD. Where was your CONDOM Mr. Sullivan? Oh, wait, let me guess, you're one of those men who can tell by looking at someone whether or not they have an STD or not, right? The truth of the matter is the only person you have any right to be angry with is YOURSELF. You have an STD because you were not personally responsible. I think there's an old saying that goes something like this: "Whenever you point a finger at someone else remember you have at least three fingers pointing back at yourself."

RE: Personal Responsibility

Parker, condoms are made of latex which is far from invincible. The possibility of them breaking makes them irrelevant to point when one of the consenting partners is aware that they are exposing the other to a contagious disease and decides for whatever reason not to tell them. You are right that I do have some degree of intelligence. That is also one of my reasons for picking my University of Oregon (U of O) graduation picture for the profile to dispel any myth by dimwitted critics that I am of average or less intelligence since the admission requirements of the university are such that you need to be of above average intelligence to get in and then meet even higher standards to be admitted to the Lundquist College of Business where I completed my major. One great advantage of the U of O admission standards is that it spares students on campus the annoyance of having to deal with common idiots that cannot summon the intelligence required to realize that there is no such thing as an indestructible human made object, that condoms are made by humans, and that condoms are not indestructible. I also realize that when pointing one finger there are three pointing back, which is why I am glad to have "I'm right" written on all four.

Wow

So your argument comes down to condoms might fail and you have a degree? They clearly don't teach debate at U of O.

Herpes, the STD that started all of this is often transmitted by people who don't know they have it, condoms offer some protection (30% reduction in the latest study) but given the prevalence of asymptomatic carriers it's really hard to know where a somebody got it unless they have been monogamous for a long time and have had a clear antibody test for HSV 1 & 2 before they started having sex with their partner.

So are you even sure you're even accusing the right person? How do you know that for sure?

CONDOMS BREAK...

So doesn't that bolster the abstinence only crowd? You failed to answer my main point. Your responsibility. AT SOME MOMENT, you CHOSE TO HAVE SEX. (Of course that is an assumption on my part, maybe she raped you, who knows?) AS A SEXUALLY ACTIVE ADULT, the possibility of acquiring an STD is one of the realities we all take. Instead of playing the "poor me, I got an STD game" why not do something positive with your wounded pride? OH, For the record, I DO HAVE AN STD and I *DO* Disclose. I feel no shame over having acquired it either. It's almost 2010 and most anyone who's been sexually active and is honest will admit they've probably had one or had an STD scare. I hope you're "I'm right" is written in erasable ink because, someday, you may find yourself in a situation you never imagined finding yourself in. --Just the ramblings of a 'common idiot' who didn't get into the U of O and still manages to live a happily successful life.

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