Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Online Dating Background Checks information promotes safe cyber sex.

Background verification in online dating is about risk reduction and it makes good sense. None of the sites can provide any guarantees that they have fool-proof systems, but they do help in reducing the risk. As social networking, online dating and the Internet increase the number of people that we can meet, it also decreases what we can know about their life history and experiences. The popularity of online dating has born numerous niche sites and background verification services to weed out the weirdos, but the true danger of sexual health has been forgotten. The media has done wonders to perpetuate the fear of being raped or murdered on a first date by someone you met online. Now naturally one should be cautious initially and meet in public etc., but this is common sense. The chances of getting murdered from your online date are infinitesimally small. Nevertheless, a criminal record check is a premium service for which hundreds of thousands of online daters pay more than $50 per month. But the best background check service i have found is only $29 for a 3 year unlimited search membership.

Unfortunately, online dating sites have overlooked what is most important, which is personal health. According to the US Department of Justice, 1 tenth of 1 percent of the population has been convicted of a sexual offense and more than 60% are currently in custody or being monitored. Because online daters are mostly between 18 to 45 years, which is about 2/3 of the total population, let’s just assume a very high number and triple the original figure; assuming that 3 in 1000 online daters are sexual weirdos. OK, sure this is something to consider, but when it comes to sex health the numbers are much scarier.

1 in 5 people over the ages of 12 has genital herpes and up to 90% don’t tell their partners. Mostly, this is because they have not been tested for genital herpes and confuse their symptoms with other temporary irritations. According to CDC, more than 1 million people have HIV in the US and at least 25% don’t know they are infected, again because they have not been tested. HIV is a fatal disease without any symptoms for 10 to 15 years or longer. OK, but you use condoms. Well, in the case of genital herpes condoms have been found to be only 50% effective in preventing transmission. This is because they only partially cover the area from which the virus may shed and be passed-on. Read our STD facts section for details, but you will also see that common curable STDs may lead to serious long-term health consequences when they go undiagnosed and untreated and they also increase the chances of getting HIV and genital herpes.

The bottom line is that the risk of contracting STDs is the most serious risk for dating, especially so for online daters. We are never going to know for certain about someone’s full sexual history and we probably never should. We are of course entitled to our privacy and this would get absurd. But, remember that there is at least a 1 in 5 chance that your date has genital herpes and a 1 in 300 chance that he/she has HIV, versus a 3 in 1000 chance that he is a sexual deviant. Criminal background checks cannot guarantee that you won’t be raped and a negative HIV test in the last 6 months cannot guarantee clean health, but you see where the priority should be and that risk reducing the risk is essential. Given that condoms alone don’t do the job, you need to at least ensure that people are getting tested and are socially responsible.

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