The dating app also offers free ads for HIV-testing sites.
The world’s largest dating app for gay and bisexual men now offers users the option to get reminders when they’re due for an HIV test.
Grindr boasts 3.6 million daily users, and now they'll all have the option to be reminded to get tested every three or six months.
“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,” said Jack Harrison-Quintana, director of Grindr for equality, in a statement.
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Once activated, a pink reminder will pop up telling users they’re due for an HIV test.
It will also help them find a local clinic to get the test done.
The app already gives users the option to share their HIV status and date they were last tested. The testing reminders can be turned on in the profile edit screen.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 6 gay and bisexual men living with HIV are unaware they have it.
Dr. Jeffrey Klausner welcomed the move because it targets men where they’re actually meeting each other.
Klausner, a professor and former director of STD Prevention and Control Services at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, has used Grindr in research that distributed HIV testing kits to gay and bisexual men.
“Those kinds of projects aren’t really sustainable, so to see [Grindr] do something themselves and change the platform in a way that can really lead to sustained increase in HIV-testing reminders … is really a breakthrough,” he told BuzzFeed News.
“Grindr is a leader in the field, so I’m hoping as Grindr paves the way, other sites will follow,” said Klausner, who is now at the UCLA Medical Center.
Klausner said the way men meet each other has changed over the years — from bathhouses to chatrooms and now to apps like Grindr. So it only makes sense that HIV prevention strategies change too.
Grindr also announced that it now offers free advertising for HIV-testing sites in the US. They have been testing the ads for a year in 15 underserved areas.
The founder of an LGBT center in one of those places — Allentown, Pennsylvania — said they've seen a “dramatic increase” in HIV testing over the last two years.
“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 of the Allentown, Pennsylvania, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, in a statement.
The hope is that the free ads will reach gay and bisexual men of color and people living in the South, who are overrepresented in HIV diagnosis stats. According to the CDC, black gay and bisexual men accounted for the largest number of new HIV diagnoses in 2016, followed by Hispanic and Latino men, then white men.
Although marginalized men may have trouble seeking HIV services, due to factors like location and stigma, they're still using apps like Grindr, said Klausner. Which means this is a way to reach them in ways other campaigns can't.
“Testing promotion and access to Grindr only works if people actually get tested, so it’s obviously important that men who have sex with men, particularly if they have more than one partner, get tested every three to six months,” he said.