Love is supposed to be everlasting. Unfortunately for many, the only permanent thing to come out of a relationship is an incurable sexually transmitted disease.
And that’s why Cyrus Sullivan, of Portland, Ore., claims that he runs STD Carriers Disease Control and Prevention Services, a website that lists claimed and confirmed carriers by their names, locations, descriptions, and sometimes their photos.
The database is completely open to the public — you don’t have to login to browse the listings, and many of the recently added carriers’ pics are displayed prominently on the site’s front page. Users submit photos freely. There are about 1,500 listings.
From the workmanlike design and sluggish flash slideshow and bizarre comparisons between Pearl Harbor’s “hostile Asian men” and STD awareness, you might get the impression that Sullivan, who also runs an online reputation-management business, operates with a tongue-in-cheek M.O.
And you’d be wrong: Sullivan is for real and his work (for better or for worse) is heartfelt, — and he has updated his site just in time for Valentine’s Day.
From the mission statement: “It is our goal that by promoting the sharing of information that we can ultimately protect you health from dangerous diseases while protecting your civil liberties and providing quality entertainment.”
“It was based on a personal experience,” he told Runnin’ Scared. “I was dating some chick during college who didn’t disclose to me that she had herpes. I was kind of upset about that, and I kind of created the site and put her on there as kind of like, the first person. It kind of made me look like I was looking for revenge, but I actually wasn’t doing it for revenge.”
So Sullivan started STD carriers in 2008 and has made his rounds in the media circuit from time to time since then. He’s gone through a couple of re-designs, but he hopes that this latest red-black motif will propel him to a new professional level.
The press release gives a little more info than the relatively reticent Sullivan:
“Surfing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) online has never looked good until now thanks to the dynamic facelift STD Carriers Disease Control and Prevention Services received just in time for Valentine’s Day. The super fabulous makeover is part of an effort to increase the fun factor of STD Carriers, improve the overall image of the site’s founder, and increase the value of its reputation management services.
Since its launch STDCarriers.com has always been criticized as a poorly designed invasion of privacy. Those days are history because what was once described as “a disorganized mess of red, white, and blue” is now a well organized STD fighting machine with a cross browser compatible CSS3 layout built to look great in up to date versions of all major browsers. Further improvements include a dynamic search tool that allows users to surf the STD Registry for keywords asynchronously without the need of a page refresh and a gallery of recent images now graces the home page above the latest work of anonymous users.
The site’s founder began the much overdue overhaul about a week ago after a colleague convinced him that the old site was making him look bad professionally. The founder took this to heart because until that day he always felt immune to such things believing that he could always explain the lies of his critics to people that really matter as the rants of insignificant malcontents, but that colleague shattered his senses of innocence and security with the knowledge that important people might not look past his first design before they can see his better work. Having accepted the fact that his innocence is lost forever the founder finds calm as his sense of security rebounds with the knowledge that it will be years before STDCarriers.com is technically capable of making him look bad again now that surfing for STDs feels like shopping online.
Sullivan also runs similarly set-up websites that identify accused online bullies and alleged illegal aliens.
He doesn’t think that there’s anything wrong with posting individuals’ personal information online — and calling them STD carriers — without their diagnoses being confirmed. Sullivan thinks its a public service.
As far as the people who get listed who don’t have STDs?
“It has happened,” he tells Runnin’ Scared. “It’s removable if you send in a negative test result. It’s not always true that when something is on the web it could be there forever. If somebody’s on it, and I remove it, it’s going to disappear eventually — unless some other people decide to search engine copy and post links to it.”
Sullivan also doesn’t think that there’s a conflict of interest with running both a reputation-ruining website — and an internet business where he charges money to improve people’s online reputations.
“I dont think there’s ever an ethical conflict with helping someone improve their reputation,” he says. “I mean, beyond making changes, beyond that, it’s really just recomendations to see what they have.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 10, 2012