Grindr, the world's largest queer mobile social network, today announced a new feature update that builds on Grindr for Equality's efforts to raise sexual health awareness among Grindr users. Starting today, Grindr users will be able to opt-in to easily and discreetly receive automatic reminders to get tested for HIV every three to six months. The new testing reminder feature was developed with guidance from Building Healthy Online Communities, a consortium of public health leaders and gay dating website and app owners who are working together to support HIV and STI prevention online. The feature also follows the CDC recommended guidelines for testing frequency among some sexually active gay and bisexual men and trans people. The update is notable because it makes an immediate and significant impact on the health of a number of individuals as Grindr has users in every country in the world and 3.6 million users who log in daily.
"Grindr's making it as easy to get tested as to find a date," said Dan Wohlfeiler, director of Building Healthy Online Communities. "Getting tested regularly for STDs, including HIV is one of the most important things a guy can do for his own health, and his partner's."
This is not the first time Grindr has leveraged its technology to raise sexual health awareness and make an impact in public health. About a year ago, Grindr gave users the ability to include their HIV status and last test date fields in Grindr profiles in an effort to foster an open dialogue among their users about sexual health.
In addition, in 2015, Grindr for Equality partnered with San Francisco AIDS Foundation on a survey of Grindr users that found racial disparities in how doctors prescribed HIV PrEP medication. The results are guiding Grindr for Equality's PrEP awareness campaign, which includes translating health information into Spanish and connecting underserved users to PrEP-friendly providers. Grindr's ability to geotarget its millions of users across 197 countries has turned Grindr for Equality into an invaluable tool for raising awareness of LGBT health issues.
"Grindr has always been committed to its users and the issues affecting the LGBTQ community at large. One of Grindr for Equality's goals is to contribute to the movement to increase information, reduce HIV transmission, and support our whole community – regardless of HIV status – in living long and fulfilling lives, free of stigma," said Jack Harrison-Quintana, Director of Grindr for Equality. "We felt this update would be a great way to make an immediate impact within the community on a broad scale and encourage more regular HIV testing."
In addition, the company announced free advertising for HIV testing sites in the United States, and that it has partnered with CenterLink, an organization that connects more than 200 LGBTQ community centers throughout the U.S., to proactively develop free ads for its HIV testing services. Grindr's work with CenterLink comes at a critical time, when new HIV infection rates are generally declining across America but remain stable for young people aged 20-24 and are actually increasing for people aged 25-29 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance Report, Published November 2017). Additionally, the free ads also hope to target rural areas where persons infected with HIV are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage than their urban counterparts (BMC Public Health, 2011), and the Deep South which has the highest rates of HIV diagnosis rates of any US region and where HIV diagnoses are increasing among minority MSM (Duke University, 2017).
"In many parts of the country, LGBTQ community centers are the only places for miles where LGBTQ people can go to feel safe, and we hear of people who travel great lengths just to get tested," Denise Spivak, Deputy Director at CenterLink. "With free ads, Grindr gives under-resourced centers a way to reach out to these individuals in a way that they never could before and educate a huge number of people who might need our services and who otherwise might never have known that the centers were able to help."
Grindr has been testing its free ads in fifteen rural and underserved areas in America for the past year. One such community center that has been trailing this service, Allentown Pennsylvania comments:
"With free ads for our services running on Grindr, we've been able to target users in our community and raise awareness for our center and HIV testing services," said Adrian Shanker Founder and Executive Director of the Allentown, Pennsylvania Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. "We have seen a dramatic increase in use of our HIV testing site over the last two years, particularly in people that have never been tested before. With this data we are able to better address the needs in our community. It's a virtuous cycle that Grindr has helped contribute to. Without Grindr's platform, we wouldn't be able to do this work around prevention and awareness or reach those most in need."
Grindr is currently offering free advertising to any qualifying HIV testing sites in the United States. Interested parties are invited to inquire within by contacting Grindr for Equality at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How it works: Grindr's New Automatic HIV Testing Reminders
Starting today, any Grindr user will be able to use the Grindr app to conveniently and discreetly remind themselves to take an HIV test every three to six months from their last test date. The suggested time frames are based on recommendations by the CDC for some sexualy active gay and bisexual men.
The new feature can be activated within the Edit Profile screen accessible within the user profile page. Once on the Edit Profile screen, the Sexual Health section provides fields for a user to enter their HIV Status, Last Tested Date, and Testing Reminder preferences. By default Testing Reminders are set to Off but users can chose to receive reminders after 3 months or 6 months after their last test date.
When users receive the reminder in their Grindr inbox, they are given an option to find a HIV testing facility close to them and also to update their profile.