Grindr’s full response to disclosing users’ HIV status to outside vendors

As a company that serves the LGBTQ community, we understand the sensitivities around HIV status disclosure. Our goal is and always has been to support the health and safety of our users worldwide.

Recently, Grindr’s industry standard use of third party partners including Apptimize and Localytics, two highly-regarded software vendors, to test and validate the way we roll out our platform has drawn concern over the way we share user data.

In an effort to clear any misinformation we feel it necessary to state:

  1. Grindr has never, nor will we ever sell personally identifiable user information – especially information regarding HIV status or last test date – to third parties or advertisers.
  2. As an industry standard practice, Grindr does work with highly-regarded vendors to test and optimize how we roll out our platform. These vendors are under strict contractual terms that provide for the highest level of confidentiality, data security, and user privacy.
  3. When working with these platforms we restrict information shared except as necessary or appropriate. Sometimes this data may include location data or data from HIV status fields as these are features within Grindr, however, this information is always transmitted securely with encryption, and there are data retention policies in place to further protect our users’ privacy from disclosure.
  4. It’s important to remember that Grindr is a public forum. We give users the option to post information about themselves including HIV status and last test date, and we make it clear in our privacy policy that if you choose to include this information in your profile, the information will also become public. As a result, you should carefully consider what information to include in your profile.

As an industry leader and champion for the LGBTQ community, Grindr, recognizes that a person’s HIV status can be highly stigmatized but after consulting several international health organizations and our Grindr For Equality team, Grindr determined with community feedback it would be beneficial for the health and well-being of our community to give users the option to publish, at their discretion, the user’s HIV Status and their Last Tested Date. It is up to each user to determine what, if anything, to share about themselves in their profile.

The inclusion of HIV status information within our platform is always regarded carefully with our users’ privacy in mind, but like any other mobile app company, we too must operate with industry standard practices to help make sure Grindr continues to improve for our community.  We assure everyone that we are always examining our processes around privacy, security and data sharing with third parties, and always looking for additional measures that go above and beyond industry best practices to help maintain our users’ right to privacy.

– Scott Chen, CTO of Grindr

 

Health Alert: HIV rate among gay and bi men between the age of 25 to 34 rose 45% between 2008 and 2015

During that time, the rate dropped 15 percent nationally and rose 25 percent among Latino men who have sex with men.

From Poz Magazine online

While the national annual HIV infection rate dropped by an estimated 15 percent between 2008 and 2015, a few key subgroups saw a rise in yearly new HIV infections, also known as HIV incidence. During this period, HIV incidence among 25- to 34-year-old men who have sex with men (MSM) increased by an estimated 45 percent while the rate increased 25 percent among Latino MSM.

These figures come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new, in-depth analysis of epidemic trends in the United States. Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the report is a more precise and granular version of reports on epidemic trends that CDC officials presented at the 2017 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle a year ago.

At that time, the agency estimated that HIV incidence declined 18 percent between 2008 and 2014. This new estimate, therefore, represents a disappointing reduction in that hopeful figure.

Prior to 2008, HIV incidence was essentially stable in the United States for the two decades since the beginning of the modern era of combination antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

Read the full article.

 

Teens who hide their sexual orientation have higher suicide risk

From Reuters Health

Teens who hide their true sexual orientation are at higher risk for suicidal behaviors, a new study suggests.

The study focused on teens who either identified as gay or lesbian but had sexual contact with only the opposite sex or with both sexes, or who identified as heterosexual but had sexual contact with only the same sex or with both sexes.

These teens – who are experiencing what researchers call sexual orientation discordance – have a significantly elevated risk for suicide, investigators warn in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers surveyed nearly 7,000 high school students from across the U.S., asking 99 questions about health and risk behaviors. Two of the questions focused on sexual orientation.

About 4 percent of the teens had experienced sexual orientation discordance, responses showed. This was true for 32 percent of gay and lesbian students, compared to 3 percent of heterosexual students.

Read the full article on Reuters Health.

New York will investigate reports of gay men denied insurance

From the New York Times

State financial regulators in New York said Wednesday that they would investigate reports that gay men have been denied insurance policies covering life, disability or long-term care because they were taking medication to protect themselves against H.I.V.

Such denials would amount to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the companies doing so could be penalized, said Maria T. Vullo, the state’s superintendent of financial services.

The investigation was triggered by an article published Tuesday by The New York Times, she said.

The Times reported that various insurers around the country had denied policies to gay men after learning they took Truvada, a cocktail of two anti-AIDS drugs, to avoid catching H.I.V. through sex. To get insurance, some men even stopped taking the protective drugs.

The practice — known as “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” or PrEP — is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies have shown that people who take the drug every day have nearly a zero chance of becoming infected, even if they are in a long relationship with an H.I.V.-infected person or have sex with many strangers without condoms.

Read the full article.

Men who have sex with men receive less HIV education

From MD Magazine

According to a recent study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), young men who have sex with men (MSM) are less likely to receive school-based HIV education than young men who have sex with women, leading to a higher risk of HIV infection.

Researchers aimed to evaluate HIV education and sexual risk behaviors among young men who have sex with men (YMSM) relative to men having sex with women (MSW) in order to identify the relationships between HIV education and YMSM sexual risk behaviors.

The study, published in LGBT Health, found that 84% of MSM reported learning about HIV in school compared to 90% of MSW.

“It’s striking that the young people who are at most risk of HIV are least likely to report HIV education in school,” Julia Raifman, ScD, SM, lead author, assistant professor, health law, policy and management, Boston University School of Public Health, said in the study.

Researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Youth Risk Behaviors Surveillance System that collected information on sex of sexual contacts and HIV education in 2011 and/or 2013. HIV education, number of sexual partners ever and in the past 3 months, and condom use at last sex were all assessed, controlling for age, race/ethnicity, state and year.

Read the full article.

Gay men’s stories of monogamy and non-monogamy: change, flexibility and tensions

From aidsmap.com

Many men, particularly younger men, implicitly expected monogamy to be the basis for long-term relationships. They felt it created stability, security, intimacy and trust. It was seen representing a more moral way of life than non-monogamy and promiscuity.

“We never discussed being completely exclusive: it was just a given that we would only see each other.” (Single, 21 years).

“Even though I’m gay I still believe in the whole stable family thing. So, I do want a husband and kids.” (Coupled, 22 years).

Nonetheless, men did not necessarily think that monogamy would last. It might be thought of as most important at the beginning of a relationship:

“I think it’s important to have monogamy for at least the first three years of your relationship because it creates emotional connections and a spiritual connection. And because in the first three years of your relationship, that’s all new and you don’t want to rip that out and have that strain put on the relationship.” (Single, 29 years).

Many men expected relationships to transition to non-monogamy over time. While some men explained this by talking about the ready availability of sex on the gay scene, others gave biological explanations:

“When you’ve got two hormonally driven men sometimes they just need an outlet if they don’t want to self-destruct.” (Single, 24 years).

The same man also said that social contact with other gay couples had led him to expect a non-monogamous relationship, even if he struggled with this expectation.

“Most people in relationships I know that have lasted are open so even though I don’t like it, I am aware that if I want a lasting relationship, there’s a good chance that’s the key to success.”

In contrast, other men aspired to non-monogamy. They might idealise older couples whose relationships were secure, successful and open:

“They’re deeply in love and they’ve got a home together. And they’re in a completely open relationship… That’s something I would like as well. It’d be nice to get to that point in time where insecurities have gone and you don’t worry about who’s sleeping with who, so long as you love the person you’re going home to… If [partner] and I do stay together long-term, that’s where I see our relationship going.” (Coupled, 28 years).

Read the full article.

“The Mess He Made” re-creates the ritual of an HIV test — and its aftermath

From the Huffington Post Queer Voices

Mainstream films like “Philadelphia” and “The Dallas Buyers Club” have undoubtedly raised awareness of HIV/AIDS issues ― to varying degrees of success ― in Hollywood. Still, Matthew Puccini felt he’d never seen the routine, yet often stressful, act of being tested for the virus accurately portrayed in film.

The New York-based writer-director channeled his personal experiences with getting tested for HIV into “The Mess He Made,” a new, harrowing short film which debuted at SXSW in March and has since been seen at the 2017 Palm Springs International ShortFest and other film festivals. The film, which can be viewed in full above, follows a gay man, Jude (played by Max Jenkins), as he waits anxiously for the results of an HIV test in the parking lot of a shopping mall in small town America.

Read the full article and watch the video here.