While the conversation around a relatively new HIV prevention method called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) continues to heat up among gay and bisexual men, the massively popular gay dating app Grindr said it has long been involved in building awareness about it among its users.
"Grindr is working with PrEP groups around the country to find ways that utilize Grindr's network best and most effectively get the word out," a spokesman for Grindr told BuzzFeed.
HIV/AIDS researchers have used the app to find participants in clinical trials on using PrEP for HIV prevention. Each campaign is broadcasted to users in a specific location "based on request of the location of the research," the spokesman said.
PrEP, which is currently available in the form of an expensive daily pill called Truvada, has sparked some debate among HIV/AIDS healthcare advocates — with some saying it is an important tool in the fight against new HIV infections, while others question its efficacy and express concerns it will lead to riskier behavior like condomless sex. Notably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May issued medical guidelines recommending that doctors prescribe Truvada to patients at high risk to help reduce the risk of HIV infection along with the use of condoms, saying it is over 90% effective when taken daily as directed.
Raising awareness about PrEP comes along with Grindr promoting safe sex practices and HIV testing, the company said.
Grindr said this of PrEP in a statement to BuzzFeed:
"As the largest gay network with more than 5 million active monthly users, Grindr is a powerful platform to raise awareness on important issues for the gay community around the world.
We launched Grindr for Equality to spur action on a variety of causes, as well as gay men's health issues such as HIV/AIDS and most recently PrEP awareness. Actions can take the form of signing petitions, donating money to a worthy cause or participating in a specific call to action.
To date, Grindr has helped raise awareness surrounding numerous PrEP initiatives including studies and information sessions.
Grindr is highly committed to promoting safe sex within the community and strongly encourages our users to engage in safe sex practices, get tested and know their HIV status."