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Sexual health advocates join forces with dating apps to encourage gay men to test for HIV

Sexual health advocates join forces with dating apps
PlanetRomeo | Facebook – PlanetRomeo is one of the apps encouraging users to get their sexual health checked

It’s currently European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week (18-25 Nov), and the UK’s largest sexual health charity, Terrence Higgins Trust, has teamed up with some of the world’s best-known mobile dating apps to spread the message.

Users of Grindr, Hornet and PlanetRomeo in 53 countries will see adverts promoting the newly revamped European Test Finder – a website that will help millions in Europe and Central Asia find their nearest location for HIV and hepatitis testing.

The promotion, which the apps are carrying for free, will be sent out in 40 languages across the 53 countries of Europe and Central Asia.

Users simply have to enter their postcode to find the nearest location for sexual health testing.

Campaign coordinator Cary James from Terrence Higgins Trust said in a statement: ‘We believe this is one of the most far reaching initiatives to promote HIV, hepatitis and STI testing in the world ever.

‘It demonstrates how commercial companies, public health and community organizations can work together to create something game-changing which crosses borders and makes a difference.’

Asked by GSN if the rise in popularity if apps had posed challenges in the way sexual health organizations communicate their message, James said, ‘The report we authored for the European Centre For Disease Prevention and Control on how dating apps are affecting HIV prevention in Europe found gay dating apps are popular all over the region, but community organizations are sometimes struggling to know how best to use them.

‘We found there are often barriers in their way like the lack of funding or access to international payment methods. Apps told us they were keen to help, but the number of requests from different countries could be problematic.

‘This action overcomes these barriers and provides promotion of testing in areas where it has never happened in this way before.’

Grindr: ‘Our goal is to promote testing, protection, prevention and treatment to our users’

Alex Garner from Hornet Gay Social Network said in a statement about the company’s support for the initiative: ‘Hornet is proud to support European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week.

‘We understand how important testing is and that knowing your status is a key step toward taking control of one’s health. We will continue to do all we can to provide our community of users with vital information and resources about testing, treatment, and the diversity of prevention options.’

Jack Harrison-Quintana from Grindr said that the company was, ‘Committed to educating the global LGBTQ community about safe sex practices and is proud to partner with the European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week. Our goal is to promote testing, protection, prevention and treatment to our users.’

Marc van Zijp from PlanetRomeo said: ‘As one of the major online dating communities for gay and bisexual men, PlanetRomeo thinks the European Test Finder is an important initiative and wholeheartedly encourages collaborations between European health organizations and companies like ours.’

 

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