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STD matchmaking site plans English version

Montreal Gazette
Wed Oct 14 2009
Page: A6
Section: News
Byline: JAN RAVENSBERGEN

Source: The Gazette

The Montreal developer of a French-language matchmaking website for people with sexually transmitted diseases says he intends to start a similar English-language site "by the end of this year."

"This is not an ordinary business," website co-founder Guy Leduc, 42, said yesterday.

The site offers chat, information and links to local support groups - as well as dating opportunities - for people with herpes, syphilis, human papilloma virus or hepatitis, or who are HIV-positive.

Leduc, a herpes patient, has a Web programming and telecommunications background.

"Estimates show that one in five Canadian adults have genital herpes, often without symptoms," said Leah Dolgoy, of the Head and Hands clinic in Notre Dame de Grâce.

For those with genital herpes and HPV, Dolgoy added, "we try to impart the message that they can have healthy, happy sex lives."

Leduc said he prefers the acronym STI, for sexually transmitted infection, to STD.

Leduc said he and two business partners launched the website Sept. 7.

About 100 users have registered, of whom about 90 have herpes," Leduc said. The site welcomes straights and gays, and features a "strong confidentiality policy," he added.

"We've attracted people of all ages," Leduc said - "including a lot in their 50s and 60s. We even have one member who is a 73-year-old lady."

While access now is free, Leduc said he expects to start charging subscribers in "three to six months." The cost is expected to be 24.95$ a month, he added.

On the Web: www.itsRencontres.com

janr@thegazette.canwest.com