AHF: New UN Report Says Hook Up Apps Fuel Global Increase in HIV, STDs; Apps Deny Links, Remain Unwilling to Do Anything About It

Two-year United Nations study attributes new HIV epidemic among young
gay men in Asia to smartphone dating apps

AHF to continue, expand billboard campaign drawing attention to
potential STD risks for Grindr and Tinder users

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The United Nations recently announced the results of a two-year study
that found the growing use of mobile dating apps by young gay men is a
major factor in a new HIV epidemic among teenagers in Asia. Pointing to
the “explosion” of dating apps as a significant contributor to a “hidden
epidemic” of HIV cases among teenagers and young gay men, the
Asia-Pacific Inter-Agency Task Team on Young Key Populations—which
includes UNICEF, UNAIDS and others—warned in its December report,
“Adolescents: Under the Radar in the Asia-Pacific AIDS Response” that
the rise in new HIV infections coincides with an increase in risky
behavior, such as multiple sexual partners and inconsistent condom use.

“The developers of these dating apps are creating technology that is
connecting people around the world in more ways than one—with one of the
most significant ways being the risk for contracting and rapidly
spreading sexually transmitted diseases,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova,
Senior Director, Public Health Division for AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
“Yet instead of taking ownership of their contributions to a worldwide
STD epidemic and taking swift action to launch public awareness
campaigns to inform their users about the inherent risks of STDs
associated with having more sexual partners, we’ve largely seen the
developers respond with an apathetic shoulder shrug at best—or a
complete denial of the problem at worst.”

“The worldwide impact of dating apps is as astounding as their stubborn
unwillingness to do anything about the resulting surge in HIV and STDs,”
said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “What will it take for app
creators to get in the game of protecting their users—especially
Millennials who are the primary users of the technology?”

According to the report, teens aged15-19 made up 15% of new HIV
infections in a region where there are an estimated 200,000 adolescents
living with HIV. Most of the new infections were found among young men
who have sex with men and live in large metropolitan areas including
Bangkok, Hanoi and Jakarta. The report recommends that governments
develop better data on adolescents, strategies for HIV prevention,
adolescent-specific laws and comprehensive sex education in schools and
through social media.

The results of the UN’s Asia-Pacific study support growing concern by
public health agencies on the role smartphone dating apps play in
facilitating sexually transmitted diseases. In November, a physician
with the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV also cited
dating apps
as a driver of increasing rates of STDs, including a 19%
increase in gonorrhea and a 33% rise in new syphilis infections in 2014
according to Public Health England.

In the United States, the Rhode Island Department of Health reported in
May that cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and HIV sharply rose between 2013
and 2014 and said that high-risk behaviors such as “using social media
to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters, having sex
without a condom, having multiple sex partners, and having sex while
under the influence of drugs or alcohol” have become more common in
recent years. According to a study by
Beymer et al. (2014), gay men who are meeting on location-based dating
apps are at greater risk for gonorrhea and chlamydia than those who meet
in-person or on the Internet.

AHF Expands Smartphone Dating App Public
Awareness Billboard Campaign

To remind smartphone dating app users of the inherent STD risks of both
heterosexual and homosexual casual sexual encounters, AHF launched a
public awareness billboard campaign in September incorporating two of
the most popular mobile dating apps, Tinder and Grindr. Those billboards
drew worldwide notice and widespread social media attention—as well as
threatened legal action from Tinder

AHF’s is soon launching an expanded Tinder/Grindr billboard campaign
that builds upon the initial campaign and will run in locations beyond
California and Florida. AHF’s latest Tinder/Grindr STD billboards
feature naked ‘full body’ silhouettes of couples embracing horizontally
set against a brightly colored graffiti-style background. The September
billboards featured cameo-like black silhouettes of four upright heads
positioned as two couples facing each other. In both the old and new
artwork, each couple (one a man
and a woman
; the other, two
men
) one member of the couple has the name of one of the popular
hook up apps, such as Tinder, superimposed on it; the facing body (or
head) has the name of a sexually transmitted disease, such as Chlamydia,
across it. The billboards also include the URL ‘FreeSTDCheck.org,’
where people can get information and locations offering free HIV and STD
testing.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS
organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over
500,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin
America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn
more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org,
find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth
and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare
and Instagram: @aidshealthcare

Contacts

AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Ged Kenslea
Senior Director,
Communications, AHF
+1.323.308.1833 work
+1.323.791.5526 mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org
or
Christopher
Johnson

Associate Director of Communications, AHF
+1.323.960.4846
work
+1.310.880.9913 mobile
christopher.johnson@aidshealth.org