Gay dating websites and apps are joining in an effort to promote testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and to reduce stigma associated with HIV infection, says a report released today by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS research.
The S.F. AIDS Foundation and amfAR invited representatives of seven of the leading sites and apps, along with public health officials and reps of community-based organizations, to a two-day meeting on the subject in September, and today’s report comes out of that.
“The owners of these sites said it loud and clear: They are committed to promoting community health and contributing to the end of HIV transmission,” said Tim Patriarca, executive director of gay and bi men’s health and wellness at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, in a press release today.
“These sites and apps have an immense reach and they want to work closely with public health to learn how they can contribute to prevention efforts,” added University of California, San Francisco researcher Dan Wohlfeiler, one of the meeting’s organizers. “They’re demonstrating their corporate responsibility.”
Among the steps the site and app owners committed to taking:
Identify innovative ways to encourage users to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections regularly.
Encourage users to select among optional, stigma-free profile options to communicate HIV status such as “positive,” “undetectable,” or “negative as of” with a date of the user’s last HIV test, or partner preferences such as “HIV-neutral” or “poz-friendly.”
Collaborate with public health leaders to disseminate updated information on subjects including disease outbreaks, new HIV prevention tools such as pre-exposure prophylaxis, and new testing technologies.
Attending the meeting were representatives of sites/apps BarebackRT, Daddyhunt, Dudesnude, Gay.com, Grindr, PozPersonals, and SCRUFF, plus officials of public health organizations including AIDS United, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Alliance for State and Territorial AIDS Directors, National Coalition for STD Directors, and Project Inform. Reps of Bigmuscle and two other sites were unable to attend the meeting but plan to join in the effort.
“Supporting our users’ health is the right thing to do,” said Sidney Stokes, who leads the social action division for Grindr, in today’s release. “We’ve wanted to help for many years, but weren’t sure how best to do it. It’s great to be working together on this effort.”
You can download the full report here.