Tuesday 28 March 2017

‘When you have HIV there’s always this question of when do you tell your date’- Meet the Irish man who created dating app for HIV positive singles

Andrew Goyvaerts (28) is the founder of the world's first app for HIV positive singles
Andrew Goyvaerts (28) is the founder of the world's first app for HIV positive singles
Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

An Irish man is the brains behind a new app which helps connect singletons living with HIV.

Andrew Goyvaerts (28) from Baltimore in Cork was inspired to create the new app, Poz, after experiencing abuse from trolls for being open about his HIV positive status on a mainstream dating app.

The entrepreneur revealed that Poz allows people living with HIV to approach dating without the fear of rejection that can come with other online dating platforms.

“The idea for the app really came from some experiences I has after being diagnosed with HIV.

“When you are dating someone there was always this question of ‘When’ is the right time to disclose your status. I had been on dating apps and I had a fair few terrible experiences.

“At the beginning, I would tell people I had HIV after talking to them for a while but then I decided to just put it out there on my profile. I was getting derogatory messages and abuse from people who I hadn’t even messaged and people I didn’t even have an interest in. The rejection was tough to take but that experience motivated the idea to create Poz,” he said.

The idea for the app was two years in development before it launched in late March and has since attracted more than 3,500 active users in Ireland, the UK and USA.

In Ireland, 7,353 people have been diagnosed with HIV since the early 1980's according to the most recent report on HIV in Ireland issued by the HPSC.

Andrew's international app is GPS-based and allows users to create a profile and connect with others based on location. Andrew revealed that the app also addresses the lack of support available to those living with HIV in rural areas such as Downpatrick in Co. Down, where he is based.

“With other medical conditions, such as cancer for example, there is a huge community build up to support people going through that. With HIV, outside urban areas, people may have to travel for hours in order to get that support. I live in Downpatrick and I travel 1hr20m to Belfast and back to the local support centre.

“Poz serves as a connection point for those with HIV. With Poz one thing I am keen to promote is sexual health and its importance. Dating apps in general have a bad reputation in that way but our priority is to promote safe sex as well. People who aren't HIV positive can of course download the app too, but we would suggest maybe making it apparent on your bio that you aren't HIV positive so it's clear to other users.”

Despite his light bulb moment, Andrew admitted that his team advised against him joining Poz, suggesting it may be unprofessional however he said it’s a promise he might regret making.

“My team thought it might be a bit unprofessional to join the app myself and I agreed reluctantly. It gets harder and harder to stick to my promise the more it is growing and when I see eligible dates using the app,” he joked.

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