Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New E-mail Service sends STD Alerts

Imagine a nice Sunday morning. The birds are chirping, football is on, and you’re off work for the next 24 hours. You pour some good coffee, settle down into your brand new computer chair, and turn on your Dell. All of a sudden the words “You’ve got mail” come pleasantly out of your speakers. Wow, could it be a return email from that hot chick you slept with after four long island ice teas at the bar downtown last Saturday?

Then comes the shock at realizing that it does indeed have to do with her, but is something much different from what you expected. Instead of a beautiful poem in which she declares her undying love for you, it’s a close-up photograph of household screws with the message: "I got screwed while screwing. You might have, too"

Welcome to the 21st century, folks. California's health authorities have recently implicated an email program that sends out day-killing emails such as this to all the recent partners of STD victims. It is one way to curb the awkwardness of communication between those who have given the ultimate holiday gift and those who were on the receiving end.

This new free service invites users to specify their diagnosis from a list ranging from minor irritation (chlamydia, crabs) to gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV. You can give your name and even add a personal message if you wish. I wonder how it would feel to find out you had HIV from an email?

The service began as an experimental idea in San Francisco a year ago and now, 20,000 emails later, is undergoing a major expansion. Los Angeles unveiled its version last week, and Seattle, Philadelphia and Indianapolis are set to follow in the New Year.

The Inspot website makes the argument that telling sexual partners about medical issues "helps take away the stigma associated with HIV and other STDs. And it's scientifically proven to reduce transmission". Pranksters everywhere have nearly creamed their pants.

Administrators at Inspot have claimed that only 1% of emails sent out since the service began there have proved to be false. After this article, that number is sure to rise. Thank you, Shoutwire.

Ramon Ramirez, a testing counselor at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, was quoted as saying “This is just one way to say you've got mail … and you might have something else, too."


1 comment:

Phalligator said...

It's true though that inSPOT rarely gets complaints and the data suggest that most folks are using it for good rather than evil.

you're right though. It certainly would be a day killer...although better than the day you find out you're the one passing the bug. I think that would feel worse.