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Together these sites now boast tens of thousands of members.

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All of these can make dating—often an ego-shattering minefield for those in perfect health—even trickier."On bigger dating sites the competition is tremendous," says Jim Houran, Ph D, a clinical psychologist and columnist for Online Dating Magazine.

"And lets face it, depending on what [the illness] is, it could very well make you uncompetitive in the larger dating pool."Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives.

Next Page: Love for less [ pagebreak ]Love for less Niche sites are also a lot less expensive.

Prescription 4 Love, which started charging in May 2009, is $9.95 per month, while most of the features on No Longer Lonely (including the dating service and chat rooms) are still free.

For that fee, members get a more personalized experience, as Date Able is more akin to an old-school matchmaking service.

The organization has been responsible for almost 1,000 marriages, according to Watson.Let's face it: How do you drop that bomb on a potential love interest? She considered a number of online dating venues, but she says asked too many questions on its enrollment form, e Harmony was too "religious," and My Space was too much of a "hookup zone." "I wanted to meet men with my same diagnosis so we wouldnt [need to] have 'the talk,' or fear of rejection and transmitting," she says.“Most of us with this don't wish to spread it.”Despite—or perhaps because of—the economic downturn, the billion-dollar online dating industry has been booming. While sites like and e Harmony don't discriminate, they also don't cater to people like Lana who are coping with sexually transmitted diseases, disabilities, or mental health conditions.“Its easier to get rejected via email, and you can take baby steps online without hunting outside.”Though Prescription 4 Love didnt yield any dates for Lana, this fast-growing online community offers an alternative to mainstream dating sites for thousands of singles.Now three years old, the site currently has 8,000 members who represent nearly 40 health conditions ranging from genital herpes (2,425 members) to Tourettes syndrome (32 members). “He was having a hard time with that, so I thought if he could find someone who had the same disease, or someone with a colostomy bag, he wouldnt really have to discuss that.”Since launching the site, Durham, 48, who previously dabbled in the stock market and worked as a bartender, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.Lynn lived 60 miles away, but we made it work.”By pushing a “friends first” concept, which has been emulated in the communal blog and forum features of Prescription 4 Love, No Longer Lonely, and other illness-specific sites, Date Able members can get up to speed on the dating world in a familiar environment without the prying eyes of the Web.“People with disabilities, especially developmental disabilities, are typically behind the eight ball because they havent had the practice of dating in college or their young adult life,” says Watson.

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