"I'm so sorry - I may have given you an STD" - Online Sexual Health

I passed an interesting billboard driving into Pacific Beach the other day. It's for the online sexual health service InSpot.org. At InSpot.org you can notify by email people you've been sexually active with if you get diagnosed with an STD.

I like the idea. It's about taking responsibility for caring for the health of others you have been with, while also taking into account the stigma and embarrassment around discussing such topics. You can choose from one of six email postcards, and then fill in the online form. The postcards can be sent with your email address or anonymously. One thing I noticed is that in the drop-down menu to choose your STD, there are only choices of bacterial or parasitic infections, not viral. I'm wondering if they made this choice because of the difference in potential severity of the STDs, and that getting an email saying - "Hey, I just diagnosed with HIV. You might want to get it checked out" - might not be the best way to hear such news.

I'm curious whether it will actually be successful and impact communication around STDs, or if it will turn into late night drunken joke email postcards sent to friends. But for now, I think it's a valuable service.

Jennifer Gunsaullus, Ph.D.

Sex Therapy & Relationship Counseling in San Diego