via Bay Windows, by Ethan Jacobs
David S. Novak brings serious public health credibility to his new role as coordinator of Manhunt Cares, the men’s health offshoot of the Cambridge-based hook-up site Manhunt.net.
From 2004 to 2007, while serving as syphilis elimination coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), he literally wrote the book on online STD outreach to gay men, pioneering the department’s work in doing outreach to Manhunt members and authoring a guide on Manhunt outreach for use by other states and agencies. He moved on to serve as national syphilis elimination coordinator for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) where he continued promoting online outreach as a means to prevent HIV and other STD infections among gay men.
At first glance leaving the CDC to work for one of the world’s biggest gay hook-up sites might seem like an odd transition. But Novak said Manhunt has carved out a role for him to push forward with new strategies for online health outreach without the constraints of red tape and bureaucracy of the public health field.
"I’ve been doing this work for over five years, on the government side, state, federal, and moving into the industry side. ... I can do some things here that public heath would probably take a long time to figure out," said Novak, who joined the Manhunt team at the end of last year.
Manhunt has been working with public health agencies on its site for about the past five years, inviting them to create profiles on the site and provide information and referrals to members with concerns about HIV and other STDs. Under Novak Manhunt has expanded that work, creating Manhunt Cares, a dedicated public health website, and, said Novak, the company is working to strengthen the partnerships it has with public health agencies. Novak also hopes to experiment with new media to do HIV prevention work.
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