Former Project Runway contestant Jack Mackenroth has always been very vocal about his HIV status. Since leaving the reality competition, he has been involved in many initiatives aimed at combating the stigma of HIV positive men, including acting as the spokesperson for the national education campaign Living Positive By Design. Now, Mackenroth is moving away from the classroom and into the bedroom with the brand new social networking site for HIV-positive men, Volttage.com.
Mackenroth says that the project was inspired by the feedback he’d received since becoming an openly HIV-positive public figure. “The most frequent questions I see are about dating and status disclosure. Rejection based on a positive HIV status is commonplace.” He also notes the discrimination found on many other popular gay social networking sites that can make HIV-positive men “feel tainted, dirty and often ashamed.” So Mackenroth decided to do something about it.
“Other sites for poz men are very sterile, and we want to show that HIV-positive men can be sexy and sexual. We are not glamorizing HIV. We are just highlighting the truth,” he explains. In addition to profiles, the site also has a health section updated with articles and information and a news page with interesting items pertaining to the HIV-positive community. “I am genuinely concerned with promoting a healthy lifestyle living with HIV. It’s a great opportunity to deliver information that may be useful for someone living with HIV.”
In the future, Mackenroth hopes to expand to a mobile app and feature guest bloggers and member forums on the site. “I want Volttage to become a globally recognized ‘sexually charged’ brand that is known for combating the stigma associated with HIV,” he says. “As well as promoting acceptance and overall health.”