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Online dating: are we letting our guard down when it comes to looking after our sexual health? Part 2

June 14, 2016 Brigette Bard

Safe and sexy online dating

As many as 75 million people around the world use Tinder and the site receives at least one billion swipes every day, Match.com has 23,575,000 users… and 33% of women have had sex with someone they’ve met online – on the first date. Brigette Bard gives her top tips on safe swiping and less risky rendezvous.... you can read Part 1 here



It’s so exciting when you’re online dating and you get a match – it’s almost addictive. It’s even better if they live locally and you can meet up. The thrill of waiting for your date to arrive; the nerves; the butterflies; the excitement; the occasional disappointment (and a desperate need for a friend to call you and pretend they’re trapped in a lift and only you can rescue them)… such fun.

We need to be careful of ‘passing the buck’ though and saying that dating apps are to blame for increases in STI contraction because this removes responsibility from those actually having the sex. Every person should take responsibility for their own sexual health; knowing that it is always necessary to use condoms – for both oral and vaginal / anal sex – as it’s the only way to prevent STI’s contraction.
You should choose any dating method that works for you. And ultimately, STI transmission can only increase when people avoid using protection. If you always practice safe sex, or you and your new sexual partner know your STI status, then there is very little risk of contraction.

We love our online dating in the UK – it’s convenient, mainstream and fun for those of us with busy lives. But here are my top tips for remaining safe, confident and in control when dating moves from the ether to reality.
Safe and secure

Common sense first: when you meet up make sure it’s a public place with loads of people. Let a friend know where you are going and ask them to drop you a text/Whatsapp/Snapchat at a certain time. Make sure you feel safe and comfortable in your date’s company. If not, use your friends check up as an excuse (have one ready!) and leave. End of.

If you really like them and want to have sex with them – well that’s totally fine. Just be sure both of you are confident in your choice and are genuinely up for it. You don’t want to have regrets the next day that you were pressured into something you weren’t comfortable with – or worse be accused of pressuring someone into something.

If you’re both really drunk for example, it might be best to put of your night of passion until another time when you’re both completely in control…

Bag up

No matter how clean and fresh someone looks; no matter how expensive their watch or how tidy their flat – you can’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to sexually transmitted infections. Several STIs have no symptoms and over a fifth of people with HIV don’t even know they have it 

The only way to completely protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections is by using a condom. Carrying one (or some) in your wallet or purse just makes sense. Don’t expect your partner to provide them and don’t be afraid or embarrassed about asking to use a condom….and if neither of you has any balloons, it might make sense to postpone the party.

Test is best

If you’ve had unprotected sex with anyone or you’ve just started out on the online dating scene, it’s always a good idea to have a full STI screen – this way you can get any problems treated quickly, protecting your own and others health. It’s not worth worrying about if you’ve taken a risk, stuff happens, just get on and get tested. You can find more information about sexual health clinics here. 

There are also home tests for STIs such as chlamydia and our own BioSURE HIV Self Test where you know your own status in minutes. If you’re having lots of casual sex, it might be an idea to have some of these in the house, ready to hand.

Sites for STIs

Nowadays there are more and more online dating sites popping up, especially for people with STIs to find love. In my experience, which includes working with HIV dating sites, I believe websites which match people who are open about their STI status serve a really good purpose. They offer a place which provides the opportunity for people to re-enter the dating scene in a safe environment where taboos are broken down and conversations can be normal, like any first date interaction, from the very beginning.

People I’ve spoken to who use these platforms say they provide hope for their future. For example, we must remember HIV is only three letters, not a sentence; so there is a whole life after diagnosis, even children.




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