By Megan Mackander
An Australian ethical condom company has tapped into online dating to swipe away sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Hero Condoms have wrapped up a week-long campaign in which it set up fake Tinder profiles in an attempt to promote safe sex and their brand among young adults.
Ten profiles — both male and female — were created on Tinder and thrown into the mix of singles in the Sydney area.
Each name was a cheeky play-on-words to represent different STIs such as gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia.
The profiles included three photos— a poorly photoshopped headshot, a company logo and another with a message which read: “You could match with more than you bargained for.”
The would-be suitors included tongue-in-cheek profile information, weaving in the symptoms and outcomes of each STI.
“My ideal date would start with a single unusual sore, which is usually firm, round and painless,” the Sydphilis profile stated.
“Swipe right if you’re looking for something serious. Infertile kind of serious,” the Johnorrhoea profile said.
Surprisingly, despite the obviously fake profiles, the accounts received hundreds of matches and one user even asked Chlaramydia on a dinner date.
The company’s chief executive Dustin Leonard said the campaign was a way to reach youth one-on-one to remind them to play it safe in the world of dating.
“This was always meant to be an exercise in safe sex awareness and we used technology to reach the youth,” he said.
“When you look at the profile pictures and the name and descriptions it was abundantly clear they were fake and we used only three photos with our safe sex message as one of them.
“We never thought anything much would come of it, but soon people started initiating conversation … it was astounding.”
The company, which donates condoms to a community in Botswana for every item sold in Australia, has only a handful of staff, so a social media company was employed to run the fake profile accounts over the six days.
Not everyone saw the funny side of the online dating exercise.
The campaign — which ended on April 4 — was criticised by people on the company’s social media page and several LGBT+ groups said the AIDS profiles gave out offensive and incorrect information.
Website gaynewsnetwork.com.au said despite their best intentions, Hero Condoms did not convey the right messages.
The “Aydes” and “Aidy” profiles made a joke of HIV and did not make it clear that AIDS was not always an outcome of HIV.
Mr Leonard said the campaign never intended to offend anyone and said he would partner with health organisations in the future.
“If we did this again we would want to partner with LGBTI organisations or something like New South Wales Health,” he said.
“We never intended to stigmatise HIV or turn people away from getting tested, that was never our intention.
“There is a big issue with the level of complacency within young people where they believe they can take a pill and the STI will go away.
“We want people to know it’s actually sexy to be prepared.”
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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