Are niche dating sites viable? For some niches, they just may be. Prescription4Love.com is a dating site for people with diabetes, cancer, obesity, STDs and a variety of other chronic conditions. It’s intended to be a safe space for people who risk serious embarrassment talking about their medical conditions with people who cannot relate. I think it’s a great idea. The World Health Organization estimates that there will be 300 million people around the world with diabetes in 2025, for example. One consequence of the falling cost of computers will undoubtedly be an increase in the number of people who have chronic medical conditions but are now able to afford to be online. I’m sure in the future we will see many, many more services targeting the life styles and needs of demographic groups previously unable to use the web at all.
There are scores of STD dating sites online, but Prescription4Love’s owner Ricky Durham says that people with other chronic conditions have been most interested in his service. An unassuming man from Atlanta, Durham started the site after seeing how difficult it was for his brother to date with Crohn’s disease. Atlanta based ImageServe was contracted to build the site. The service is very simple, the web site nothing dazzling to look at, but the function it serves is of real importance. If I’m looking for a fellow diabetic who follows the same diet that I do so we can email about our struggles – I don’t need fancy web design with that. So long as it remains functional, its simplicity should be a boon for its users. Many users will also likely appreciate the fact that messages can be sent through a nickname, instead of their full real names. Unfortunately, users are unable to search for people with more than one condition – something I imagine would be important. This site is probably most interesting as a proof of concept – implementation will presumably be improved on as market demand for such services becomes more clear.
How many online shopping and photosharing applications does the world really need? Ways for people to get in touch who are socially isolated because of a medical condition may not get anyone rich, but they are something the world really does need.
Durham says that membership is currently free and when he starts charging for accounts, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to charities regarding each of the conditions the site covers.