U Wr Gr8 Lst Nite -- BTW, Get Xamined 4 the Syphilis

tell_card1_pop.jpgThe etiquette of 21st-century dating is ever-evolving. And, to those who remember the days when safe sex meant remembering to set the parking brake on your Oldsmobile, the notion of an automated, impersonal e-card informing whomever you banged last night that you exposed him or her to syphilis/crabs/scabies/chlamydia/etc. likely does not reek of "progress."

Why, in my day, such a note was delivered hand-written, on fine parchment. Kids these days!

The Oakland-based Web service inSPOT (Internet Notification Service for Partners Or Tricks) is the subject of this story in the New York Times, which centers around "Steve from San Francisco" receiving a card charmingly noting he ought to get himself checked for syphilis. S.F. is among eight cities and three states working with the site:

Deb Levine, the agency's executive director, said two factors in San Francisco led to the idea: the rise in Internet use among men who have sex with men, and an increase in syphilis among that group [ed.: See this recent SF Weekly post regarding that].

Research indicated that men with a sexually transmitted disease often failed to tell their casual sexual contacts about it."They did tell their partners, the people they saw every day, but they didn't take the time to follow up with other people they were having sex with," Ms. Levine said. "They said to us, 'If there was an easy and convenient way to do it, we would.' "

Not only is the site easy and convenient, it's also discreet. You can send out the same card to up to six former lovers, and you can even do it anonymously. Obviously, in this case, health trumps tut-tutting about the morality of anonymously barraging your former bedroom conquests with the jolting news that you've potentially subjected them to a lifetime of awkward new relationships with their pharmacists. But does the site have to give folks the opportunity to be so cute about it?

The card illustrating this article, by the way, is not a joke, nor is inSPOT's title (Tricks? Tricks? Been listening to a little too much Dr. Dre lately? How thrilling would it be to get a snarky e-card informing you that, not only have you got gonorrhea, but the person who infected you considers you a "trick"?).

I guess tricks are for kids. Silly journalist.

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