Sex, Lies, and Technology

By Carol A. Kemper, MD, FACP, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Stanford University, Division of Infectious Diseases, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Dr. Kemper does research for Abbott Laboratories and Merck.

The article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Infectious Disease Alert.

Source: Clark-Flory T. Safe sex? Salon Jan. 15, 2013. There’s an app for that. http://www.salon.com/2103/01/15/safe_sex_theres_an_app_for_that/.

The Internet age has brought all kinds of conveniences and apps for your smart phone, from the popular app “GRINDR” (allowing you a speedy hookup with the nearest sexually available individual) to the newest MedXSafe, which allows you to literally “bump phones” and share confidential STD and HIV info before you bump into bed. The phone app provides documentation from your doctor of your STD and HIV-disease-free status, just in case your new sexual partner demands certified proof. Apparently you get tested, then you ask your doctor to go to the website and vouch for your negative lab tests. Of course, a negative test a month ago is no guarantee that an individual might not have since contracted something — or was in the “window period” — and be potentially highly contagious.

Aside from the fact that physicians may object to logging on to this site and providing this information — and it’s not clear how the site verifies the credibility of the physician — the website can only provide verification for negative tests not positive ones, which seems a real limitation. Since the company states the information is secure, wouldn’t it be helpful to provide positive test results as well? Since data suggest that up to 75% of sexually active HIV-seropositive men who have sex with men (defined as two or more partners in the previous 3 months) find it difficult to disclose their HIV seropositive status, wouldn’t this be a great way to discreetly clue your potential partner into your status, and verify “HIV compatibility” without really having to discuss it?