Meet The Safest Man In America To Have Sex With

Founder of an STD app, Ramin Bastani knows his way around a Planned Parenthood or two.

Soft-spoken Ramin Bastani has lost track of the number of times he's been tested for STDs, but in the last two years, he guesses it's at least 50. "I hate needles even now," he says. When he does subject himself to the process these days, it's not because he's been getting frequent anonymous action. It's for company research.

Bastani is the founder and CEO of Hula, an app that helps users find and rate clinics that test for sexually transmitted diseases. Bastani is no Rico Suave—he describes himself as awkward. But at a Health 2.0 conference earlier this month, he was introduced to the crowd as the "safest man to have sex with in America," and the title has stuck.

Ramin Bastani

"Oh, my girlfriend hates that one," Bastani told Fast Company.

The story of Hula's origins go back to a night out on the town when he, fresh out of a long-term relationship, met a woman whom he brought back to his place. Just when things started getting hot and heavy, the question came up: Did he have any STDs? However he answered, it must not have been the right way. "She steps away and says, 'You have an STD.' She smacks me across the face, tells me to eff off, and walks out of the room," Bastani recalls. Even though he had a clean bill of health, he had no easy way of proving it—and the young woman had no way of knowing for sure if he was being truthful, for that matter. "I sat there thinking there has to be a better way," Bastani says.

His company, then known as Qpid.me, gained traction in 2010 when changes to HIPAA laws allowed users to sign medical documents electronically on a mobile device or with a mouse. That allowed the app to request documents on behalf of users by faxing clinics, which were then obliged to send over patient documents within 15 days. The records, which are encrypted, can be shared with potential partners, who gesture on the app to unzip others' profiles. Bastani considers the interaction a flirtatious version of the childhood game "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours."

Named for the leis he brings to presentations (they're a punchline to his opening, "Who wants to get leid?"), Hula is currently in talks to incorporate results into dating apps and sites. Since reports come directly from clinics—users can't upload their own results—STD statuses are, in essence, verified by Hula, which also reminds users to get tested again in the future. "The incentive is to be tested more often and have more recent dates on profiles because it makes you more attractive on dating profiles and in person," he said. "I think we can reduce most major STDs by 50% in a few years as it's adopted in dating sites."

Described as a Yelp for STDs, Hula, which soft launched three weeks ago with its new brand identity, has received close to $1 million in angel funding. In addition to clinic reviews, which it plans to include in the coming weeks, the company is looking to change how patients access their medical records. "Generally, when you get tested, clinics say, 'If you don't hear from us in two weeks, no news is good news.' That's infuriating, but it's the only way these cash-strapped health clinics can get results to their patients," he explained. But people can fall through the cracks. Bastani cited one Hula user who only learned he had chlamydia through the app six months after his STD test.

As for his current girlfriend, who he's been in a relationship with for more than a year, Bastani said she, too, saw the usefulness of Hula. "She totally got it because she had experienced that problem where you can't necessarily trust the other person, when and what those results were," he said. "So she immediately signed up for this service" after they met, he added.

[Image: Flickr user Guian Bolisay]

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17 Comments

  • Lisa M.

    Great idea - this is like on-line dating in the early 1990s - everyone will use this type of service in 5 years

  • Anonymous internet user

    When you take an STI test, all it tells you is that you were STI free a number of days ago (in the case of HIV 90 days ago, chlamydia 14-21 days ago, etc.)
    Now imagine people can post their results: it creates a very false sense of security. People are not gonna protect themselves as much because they will have "proof" that the person is "clean". However, this person could've taken a big risk some days or weeks ago and the test would not have detected whatever this person may have caught.

  • Espen

    Now if everyone would enter their sex partners and date of intercourse into the same database, we could propagate positive results in the graph and mark every connected node with a probability of undetected infection based on the frequency of intercourse and statistical risk of transmission.

    If reporting was sufficiently anonymous we could compile statistics about how likely a person is to report each intercourse and how risk-averse each person is.

  • AfternoonNapper

    Glad to see Ramin and company getting some press in Fast Co! I've been aware of their work for a few years now and have had the pleasure of meeting Ramin in person — I can say that his heart is really in his work; and I support the focus on reducing the prevalence of STDs in any population. Some comments here have said avoiding sex is an answer to the STD problem — while that may be true, it's also unrealistic. It's been proven that educating kids about SAFE sex is more effective than abstinence only education, and those safe sex practices carry through adulthood.

  • Phil Hartman

    This is why Korea and Japan are so fun. There's no STDs and everyone gets tested when they enter so it's a free for all.

  • zbeast

    This is nothing new... well it's the first time it's been turned into an app.
    The first person to do something like this was john mcafee.
    it was a website, that you could go to for this type of information about human virus,
    It didn't catch on. Then he came up with an anti-virus company.
    That one made him rich.

  • Emmy

    Guarantee men don't get tested for the std's women can get tested for like HPV and those std's are more dangerous in many respects!

  • Alex_Paxton

    Um....no. This is just too creepy. Man- and girl- up and tell the truth. Further, if you're just all about hookin' up, then you deserve an STD. :D

  • Stuart M.

    STDs are sometimes a matter of life and death, and I suppose those who sleep with strangers will be interested in this service. I really don't want to get tested every few weeks. I guess if I were "in the market," I would never again get any takers.

    I once heard of a similar service for apartment renters. If you wanted any hope of getting an apartment, you had to register with this service that kept a record of your rental payments, the condition you left an apartment in, and any complaints your landlord might have had about you. With a "clean bill of health" from the service, you could then go looking for another apartment. I think that would be a good service in America. Many people who rent out apartments have told me horror stories about tenants.

  • Johnny Z

    Using technology to make better life choices sounds good to me!! Great idea...