Last year, Grindr added HIV status and last test date fields to users’ profiles. Now the app will start sending alerts to its 3.6 daily million users, reminding them to get tested for HIV and pointing them toward nearby testing facilities.
The reminders will be opt-in, and members can set them to appear every three or six months.
Starting this week the company will also offer free advertising to health clinics, LGBT community centers and other testing sites, as part of an effort “to reduce HIV transmission and support our whole community—regardless of HIV status—in living long and fulfilling lives”, said Jack Harrison-Quintana, Grindr’s director for equality.
Grindr has been testing the free ads in 15 underserved areas, including Allentown, Pennsylvania.
“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 of Allentown’s 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.
Shanker says that without Grindr, “we wouldn’t be able to do this work around prevention and awareness or reach those most in need.”
It’s estimated more than 107,000 gay/bisexual men in the U.S. have HIV but do not know it.
“All effective efforts to increase testing are welcome”, said Jonathan Mermin, chief of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases at the CDC.