"There's no goodbye kisses, no handshake, nothing." Keen to help his friends and about five million other South Africans living with HIV, the 38-year-old salesman checked online dating websites around the world and found that almost none asked members to reveal their HIV status.He decided to start his own site, with the aim of hooking HIV-positive people up with others in the same boat while removing the stress of explaining their status."The reality is that if I stood up tomorrow at work and said I was HIV-positive my ass would be out of there within a week," he said.

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"Just because you are HIV-positive doesn't mean you can't wear sexy underwear or go out to the movies," Sassman said from his home in Cape Town.

"This site gives people the chance to go on dates and find love." South Africa is fighting the world's heaviest caseload of people with HIV and activists say stigma around the disease is one of the biggest factors stopping people from getting tested or seeking support and treatment.

Launching the site helped him better understand the disease that is silently killing his community and others in sub-Saharan Africa.

And he argues that while it risks reinforcing the idea that people with HIV are different, he aims to help people live normal lives.

"My home page has a picture of a black woman and a white man," said Sassman.

"I wanted to show that this disease can get to anyone." For more information on HIV and Aids go to iolhivaids.

For some time now it has always been the men's job to make the date. Personally I was surprised by the amount of emotion in the South Africans, myself included.

They are the ones to make the first approach in a bar, or to ask for a lady's number, but surely this is a relic of the past? I can just offer my thanks for having been alive and living in South Africa to share in part... For a few days now there have been a lot of new members who list "news or print advertisement" as the method they'd heard about us at letsmeet.

Sassman said that while some visitors clearly want romance, others simply seek support and use the site to discuss the strains of taking life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs.