|Website helps people living with HIV find love online|
|Coumba Sylla | Johannesburg, South Africa|
26 July 2006 08:23
South African Ben Sassman admits his bid to help a lonely friend living with HIV/Aids started out as a "feel-good project for myself" but is now an online dating service reaching people around the globe.
The Positive Connection, in its third year, can even claim success in the matchmaking game, having brought together a few solid partnerships.
The 39-year-old Cape Town resident, who is married, says his website is "the first and only one in the world solely dedicated" to people living with HIV/Aids.
The idea came after watching the disappointment and stress of an HIV-positive friend repeatedly turned down by women he wanted to date. "Once he disclosed his status, the girl would usually run away."
Sassman suggested he tap into online dating sites, to meet more woman and more potential dates. But the friend baulked, saying "he'll still have to disclose his status" and face rejection.
So Sassman came up with his idea -- an online resource site and meeting place for people living with the stigma of HIV/Aids.
The site's "about us" entry, next to a photo of the good-looking Sassman in a smart, dark business suit, says it aims to "eliminate the stress and emotional difficulty of disclosing your status to your partner".
If people meet someone on www.thepositiveconnection.co.za -- launched in September 2003 with a R28 000 ($4 000) investment footed solely by Sassman himself -- "you're both in the same health boat, and you can just go on with the date and not worry about disclosing [your status]," he said.
"Therefore there is no emotional pressure explaining your current health status. I thought it would add a little class to how they can meet new and interesting people," the site reads.
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