Jack Mackenroth, the first openly HIV-positive contestant in the history of the reality show competition Project Runway, has launched a social networking site for HIV positive men.
Mackenroth describes Volttage.com is 'much more than a hookup site' although it certainly offers the possibility of romantic encounters for members.
The fight, which signed up more than 600 members in its first day, offers gay men living with HIV a place to develop and foster friendships and relationships with other members. It also offers opportunities to learn about HIV and AIDS, medical advances and other health and lifestyle information.
'Sex sells,' says Mackenroth, who will appear on the site with other HIV positive models.
'But we are much more than a hookup site. We provide an alternative for HIV positive men who often feel stigmatized and discriminated against on the other sites. As the site develops and grows, we will incorporate features like forums and blogs that will strengthen a sense of community and acceptance.'
'We take the stance that everyone should assume their partner is HIV positive and proceed accordingly,' Mackenroth adds. 'Asking someone their status is rather pointless, as people may not know or even lie about it to avoid rejection.
'We encourage members to be out and proud but we understand that the stigma can be prohibitive so members control all of their own content. I hope that the sense of community will help members ‘come out’ about their status over time.'
Mackenroth was forced to withdraw from Project Runway in the fifth episode of season four due to a serious MRSA staph infection completely unrelated to his HIV.