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Grindr is working to help users identify STI risks with hookups

The app is exploring options for new features that could help stem the recent rise in sexually transmitted diseases worldwide

Grindr is reportedly exploring how it can help its users navigate STI risks – one feature the app is considering could see people use a messaging and notification service to alert their hook-ups if they had received a recent diagnosis.  

A report by Mashable speaks to public health experts about Grindr and other gay dating apps (DaddyHunt, Adam4Adam, and others), which they say are working on the STD notification features. Grindr and a host of dating apps have been working with the Building Healthy Online Communities initiative, which links dating, sex, and hook-up app developers with public health agencies and officials to promote dialogue and direct action around HIV and STD prevention.

63 per cent of new STI diagnoses were men, with chlamydia and genital warts the most common and on the rise, and link-up apps could be a spot that would educate users and inform harm reduction.

Dr. Heidi Bauer, the chief of STD control at the California Department of Health, and Dan Wohlfeiler, director of the health consortium Building Healthy Online Communities (BHOC), told Mashable that Grindr and other apps they work with are exploring having parts of their app link out to already existing notification services which are totally anonymous. Another potential option is in-app messaging.

While these are reportedly in the design phase, it’s not certain whether these options will make it into Grindr, or what other features are being tested. “We are exploring several additional sexual health-related features for our application,” Jack Harrison-Quintana, the director of Grindr for Equality, said. “However, at this time, we are not disclosing any further details around this project.”

Adam4Adam, another gay dating app, currently uses third-party messaging platform inSpot, but it requires all personal contact information shared between two users. As Gizmodo reports, there’s also potential for opt-in services or a mass stock message sent to users about test centres near them. Each potential feature has their pros and cons – stock messaging could mean troll copycat messages get passed around, while giving people the option to directly message hook-ups could be hindered by users genuinely forgetting, or deliberately staying quiet.

Grindr has been working increasingly on combatting HIV, launching tools that remind users to get tested, and the option to share their HIV status. However, a recent investigation by Buzzfeed found Grindr was sharing its HIV status data with third parties in an effort to optimise its service. This was criticised hugely as an invasion of privacy and catalyst for discrimination and stigma by experts, and the app has since pledged to stop.