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Tuesday, 05 February 2013 10:07

Gaydar and Grindr HIV Advert Protests

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An advert that appeared on Grindr and Gaydar and other dating sites and apps over the weekend has been removed following protests on Facebook and via Twitter.

The advert, under the heading ‘Got the cool gene?’, promoted a test that could determine whether an individual had a genetic mutation which makes HIV infection less likely. Matthew Hodson, of the gay men’s health charity GMFA, was one of many who protested. Hodson commented, “With thousands of UK gay men becoming infected with HIV each year, it seems particularly irresponsible to be suggesting to gay men that they may be immune.”

Hodson adds, “It’s true that some people are less vulnerable to HIV than others, because of a specific gene mutation. However, even if you do have this mutation, it only offers partial protection - it does not guarantee that you will not become infected. Using condoms and lube is a much better method of prevention than a test that tells you that you may be less likely to catch HIV than someone else. I am delighted that Grindr and Gaydar have both removed this advert.”

The responsibility of gay dating websites and apps for the health of their users, and in particular their impact on sexual health, has been hotly debated over the last few years. The latest issue of the sex and health magazine, FS, looks at the impact that recent technology has on sexual health. It’s clear that technology has changed the way that many gay men meet new sexual partners and young gay men are now most likely to explore their sexuality for the first time with men that they meet online or via an app.

The changing face of gay dating presents both challenges and opportunities for HIV prevention. Because many gay men now meet away from the scene, some of the traditional ways of reaching gay men with safer sex messages may now be less effective. However gay men are able to access a wide range of sexual health materials online, GMFA’s sexual health information site at www.gmfa.org.uk/sex receives hundreds of thousands of visitors from gay men each year. Many dating sites actively seek to provide their users with health information, and sites such as Gaydar and Manhunt are a part of a scheme which enables men who have been diagnosed with an STI to alert their recent sexual partners.

You can read the ‘Tech Sex’ feature in the latest issue of FS magazine, alongside other health related articles for gay men, including an interview by HIV-positive activist, Kristian Johns, with his HIV-negative partner, exploring the challenges that their sero-discordancy raises. FS magazine is available for free in gay venues and GUM clinics in London, or can be viewed at www.fsmag.org.uk. FS magazine is now also available to download on your iPhone, iPad or Android device for free. Visit www.gmfa.org.uk/fsapp of search for ‘FS magazine UK’ in iTunes and Google Play.

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