The Positive Connection was launched in September , with a successful run for the first six years and membership numbers increasing rapidly. Ben Sassman, founder of the website, said "normal" dating sites do not ask you for your HIV status, which still leaves people who are HIV positive with the trauma or stress of disclosing their status to a new date. Sometimes it is for support, just a friend to talk to in a relaxed, informed environment. I am also required by law to clearly mention on every page of the site that this is a dating site for people living with HIV-Aids," Sassman said. I would, however, like to expand, increase traffic and take the site into Africa, so that my members can communicate with others around the continent.
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South Africans in townships are more likely to hold false beliefs about HIV transmission and prevention because they are less likely to have received a formal education or be employed. Instead, the traditional beliefs of South Africans in townships have contributed to sexual violence in South Africa and stigmatized HIV-positive individuals, particularly women, thereby increasing the severity of the disease in the region. In addition, many traditional groups believe that ancestral spirits and supernatural forces punish those who have failed to lead moral lives by infecting them with HIV. Men who have the disease may avoid testing and remain anonymous, but women who undergo pre-natal testing are less likely to escape a diagnosis. Because women are often identified as HIV-positive before men, they are branded as the spreaders of the disease and may subsequently face physical abuse and abandonment. Because of this, women who are slender or experience weight loss also face discrimination.
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These are staggering figures, by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, the HIV epidemic is not being treated like a crisis. We were alarmed by the complacency toward the rate of new infections at all levels and the absence of an emergency response, especially for young people. This is no time for business as usual from South Africa or its partners, including the U. The epidemic is exacerbated by its concentration in year-olds, those of reproductive and working age who are the backbone of South Africa.
But for South African native Mary, simple dating carried potentially disastrous consequences. Mary was HIV-positive and was plagued with issues of revealing her HIV infection to a prospective partner -- planning for a long-term relationship when she does not know what the next day holds, and keeping a partner safe from her virus. Mary immediately signed up, and after a few months, had gotten to know two men who were in the "same situation" as her, one from the United Kingdom and the other from South Africa.