A BRITISH smartphone app has been launched exclusively for people living with HIV (PLHIV) to meet other PLHIV and hopefully find love.

Created by Andrew Goyvaerts, POZ launched in March to help PLHIV navigate the dating world without facing stigma about their status.

“After being diagnosed with HIV in 2013 I found stigma and the opinions of others to be the hardest part of moving on with life. When trying to begin dating again I was met with rejection due to my status (along with verbal abuse on occasion) and found that the few services who specifically reached out to the HIV community, were higher price when compared to general dating sites,” Goyvaerts told Star Observer.

“Personally though the hardest part of using mainstream dating apps and having HIV is the rejection due to my status. We all feel that little bit of a bruised ego if we get turned down because we’re not someone’s type or because of our looks but being turned down because I’m positive bruised me in a way I have never felt before.”

To begin with the app will be free to use, while people grow their social connections and Goyvaerts will eventually introduce a pro-membership service for those interested.

A website accompanying the app will promote sexual health, the education and awareness of HIV as well as the issues affecting those living with it in the hope of reducing stigma surrounding the condition.

Melbourne man Theodore Tsipiras said he was in two minds about whether a dating app specifically for PLHIV was a good thing and one of his concerns was protecting people’s privacy.

“In an ideal world we shouldn’t have to segregate ourselves. But then there’s that side of me that knows how liberating it is to be in a relationship with someone positive,” he told Star Observer.

“I’m very public about my status and history of drug use, but that’s not the same for a lot of people out there.

How do we screen that person on the app to know if they’re positive or not? How do we know a person is not sharing that information outside the app?”

Tsipiras was also concerned PLHIV might miss out on meeting the love of their life if they restrict themselves to finding another positive person to date.

“Being a part of the The Institute of Many, we hear day in and day out of people ‘sero sorting’, they prefer to date other positive people,” he said.

“It’s a minority within a minority and you’re limiting yourself… you might miss out on that crazy idea, there’s one special person out there for you.”

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