Surprise! You’ve been SuperPoked!

And by SuperPoked, I mean possibly infected with an STD.

Sometimes you find the strangest things when reading the
scientific literature.  This afternoon, I
was looking over the Table of Contents for the medical journal PLOS-Medicine
and noticed a public health article about inSPOT – an online STD Partner
Notification System that uses e-cards.

Yep – no longer face the embarrassment of actually telling a
person face-to-face, or on the phone, or even in a personal email that you’ve likely
given them the clap – or worse.  Just
send an optionally anonymous e-card.  You
log-in, list the emails of the partners you might have exposed, pick your STD (from
a handy dropdown menu) and send.  Easy
peasy.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor and finished
lamenting the abdication of personal responsibility in America, I felt like I had to read
a little about it.

Since its launch in 2004 by the San Francisco Department of
Public Health (raise your hand if you’re surprised), the site has been adapted
to several major North American cities (as well as Romania, which I must confess is a
head-scratcher…) and approximately 50000 e-card notifications have been sent.

My reaction ends up being a little mixed – this seems
incredibly detached and gutless way to own up to a very serious issue – an easy
way out.  But yet, isn’t an easy way out
to notification better than no notification at all?  Also, the notification provides a link on the
disease and treatment centers/options – which also seems like a good thing.

Maybe in the future they can commercialize with Hallmark and
enlist popular characters like hoops&yoyo to make the notifications.

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22 thoughts on “Surprise! You’ve been SuperPoked!

  1. i definitely have mixed feelings about this… part of me thinks it's totally wrong, but most of me thinks that at least people are getting notified…i almost sent one to steve as a joke, but then i decided against it. haha! can you imagine his shock if he got one?! hehe.

  2. Yeah, that's definitely the coward's way out, but if people are told that they have STDs, that's a good thing.
    Until, yeah, people are like, "Oh, wow, wouldn't that be a great joke?"

  3. Gutless is right. Where in the world is personal responsibility in this world? And, yes, I guess part of me is glad that at least people are notifying their partners of potential problems. Still. GUTLESS.

  4. LOVE THE TITLE! Hehe.Well, on to more serious issues — I'm actually ok with this idea, Steve. I know it seems like people are getting away scot free, but really, having them own up face to face is hardly the point. They're suffering already with whatever that damn STD might be. They might have contracted it from somebody else and in all probability didn't intend to pass it on. That's not to say they're not responsible, but pinning them down is absolutely not the point. The point is to tell the other person to be safe and get themselves checked up. In all probability they would never have been informed — considering people who end up with STDs aren't excited about informing others about their state, especially not those who might have gotten it from them.So in effect this may work well as a warning system. For that, I'm glad.

  5. It seems spineless, but Lightchaser makes some good points. It's discouraging that an anonymous notification method is necessary, but I'm for it because people who might otherwise remain silent out of shame will have a way to do the right thing, and notification can prevent future infections.

  6. Definitely gutless, but as everyone else has said, anything that can help make people aware and help curb the spread of STDs is better than nothing.All we need now is a Facebook App to really make this easy to send to your friends…

  7. Wow! Ultimately, I think the availability of this "tool" is a good thing. If you're a coward, you're a coward — and this tool isn't going to change that. But, it may make a coward do what needs to get done. If you're the type of person that will do the right thing – you'll still do the right thing. IMHO, anyway.

  8. Actually the article said that they had less than 20 reported cases of malicious use — which out of 50000+ seems pretty good. Of course, now that they've brought it to the attention of snarky scientists….

  9. LC — I guess what gets to me is that it's easier for the people that use this service to have sex with someone than it is for them to have a personal conversation. Doesn't that seem really backwards?

  10. Wow. This is just crazy. This does seem appropriate for those who are casual with their sexual activity.Young people use the internet as their primary source of socialization now. I am amazed by the way teens "talk" to each other. They are on line or texting. Then they meet and are at a loss for words. While I have many friends from my internet activities, I believe that there is more actual exchanging of thoughts and feelings. FYI my daughter (16 years old) just now informed me that she knew about this because of her subscription to Daily Candy.

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