FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, December 16, 2005

E-Cards that Announce "You've Got an STD!"

If you think those "you're my best friend" e-cards from people you barely know are annoying enough, imagine getting one telling you that you might have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease...

Health officials in Los Angeles and San Francisco have launched websites that allow users to send e-cards to sex partners, warning that the sender has been diagnosed with an STD and that the recipient should get checked ASAP. Developed for the gay communities of those cities (though they can be used by anybody), the e-cards feature cheeky taglines such as "It's not what you brought to the party, it's what you left with," and "You're too hot to be out of action."

The sites are a consequence of more people, both gay and straight, using the Internet to hook up for casual sex, as well as a growing reliance on e-mail as a primary communications medium. Health officials in Los Angeles and San Francisco are seeing a rise in the rates of HIV, syphilis and gonorrhea infections, mostly among gay men, though whether this correlates to an increased tendency to meet sex partners online is not known. What health officials do believe is that e-mail is an excellent tool for communicating a critically important yet awkward message such as this.

Once concern about these e-cards is the potential for misuse by pranksters. However, the developers of the websites say that they can closely monitor the sites for signs of abuse, and they have noted that only 0.5% of e-cards sent out have been fraudulent.

Source: Reuters (via Excite)