IDWeek: Could dating apps be used to promote PrEP?

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Research presented at IDWeek (2–6 October 2019, Washington, DC, USA) has discovered that users of the social networking app, Grindr, took more risks and had more partners than those who didn’t use the app. However, these individuals were also more likely to use, or be open to using, HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), suggesting the app could be a useful platform to reach those at-risk for HIV and to encourage testing and prevention.

The study assessed 1256 men who have sex with men, with 86.5% of these individuals not using PrEP. Based on a questionnaire and on-screen activity monitoring on mobile phones, 46% of participants said they had opened Grindr during the previous 7 days, with these users engaging in significantly higher-risk behaviours. Moreover, the researchers discovered the app users were more likely to:

  • Test positive for gonorrhoea or chlamydia (8.6% of users vs 4.7% of non-users)
  • Take PrEP (18.7% of users vs 18.7% of non-users), translating to fewer HIV infections (9 new diagnoses in users vs 26 new diagnoses in non-users)
  • Agree to begin using PrEP if they were not already on it (24.6% of users vs 14% of non-users)

Lead author, Martin Hoenigl (University of California at San Diego, CA, USA), commented: “Grindr could be a great platform to promote PrEP as well as testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, given the higher risk behavior and greater acceptance of the prevention medication. Additionally, HIV and STI testing programs could assess Grindr use to prioritize who should be tested and who would be good candidates for PrEP.”

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Source: Hoenigl M, Little SJ, Sotckman JK et al. Grindr™ on-screen activity on iPhones correlates with HIV risk and substance Uuse in men who have sex with men, San Diego. Presented at IDWeek 2019, Washington, DC, USA, 2–6 October 2019 (Abstract 1961).


What is PrEP?

The use of prescription medication by un-infected individuals to prevent the acquisition of infection before exposure.

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