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Your Next Status Update: Your STDs

Using hook-up or dating sites? This paid service helps match people who are STD-free, and awards badges for people who stay up-to-date getting tested.

Your Next Status Update: Your STDs
[Image: Condoms via Shutterstock]

Twitter gives verified accounts to celebrities and vaguely important people. Now there’s a site that awards verified status to single people who don’t have STDs.

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The development is perhaps inevitable, as the number of hook-up apps like Tinder, Lulu, and Grindr have multiplied. With anyone able to browse potential mates on their smartphone at the flick of finger, Luhu seems like the logical next step.

Luhu (“Be Safe. Have Fun.”) lets users securely share their sexually transmitted disease status with partners and earn badges for staying up to date. The benefits of membership–a one-time $79 fee and $10 each month–covers tests for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis C at a local health clinic in most states, and earns users a green Luhu badge after 6 months with a clean record. Luhu reminds users when to get a checkup, and offers optional tests for Hepatitis B, chlamydia, herpes, and gonorrhea (since these are typically not life-threatening).

Given that the Centers for Disease Control estimates more than 110 million men and women have STIs at any given time (and most sexually active people will contract some form of STI at some point, usually the HPV virus which the body will often fight off naturally), the Luhu has a big market. All STIs are preventable and treatable, says the CDC, and many are curable.

But getting people to sign up and pay then pay $120 a year is Luhu’s challenge. Founder Dr. Michael Rosen, a physician and the company’s chief medical officer, says he created Luhu for people who were dating and had no easy way to share their STD-status: It’s “like a club of people like yourself who want to meet others and stay healthy. It takes the worry away,” says Rosen.

“While folks can go get a one-time test and tell someone that they tested negative for HIV, you’re trusting what that person is saying is true,” says Rosen in a video on Venture Beat. “However, you have to ask, ‘When was that test done, and who has that person been with since that test?’ By joining Luhu, you’re markedly lowering your risk of getting an STD, or giving one to someone else.”

For members who test positive, Luhu’s counseling staff is on call to help and the profile is “paused” and kept private until the issue is resolved.

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This holiday, Luhu launched an ad campaign for folks to get tested and sign up. The message: “Tis Better Not to Give or Receive.”

About the author

Michael is a science journalist and co-founder of Publet: a platform to build digital publications that work on every device with analytics that drive the bottom line. He writes for FastCompany, The Economist, Foreign Policy and others on science, economics, and the environment.

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