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RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Feasibility of using Grindr™ to distribute HIV self-test kits to men who have sex with men in Los Angeles, California

A. Lina Rosengren A E , Emily Huang B , Joseph Daniels C , Sean D. Young D , Robert W. Marlin B and Jeffrey D. Klausner B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, 545 Barnhill Drive, EH 317, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.

B Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, CHS 37-121, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

C Department of Community Health Sciences, David Geffen School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, 650 Charles E. Young Drive South, 36-071 CHS, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

D Department of Family Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, 50-074 CHS, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

E Corresponding author. Email: agordy@iupui.edu

Sexual Health 13(4) 389-392 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH15236
Submitted: 9 December 2015  Accepted: 9 March 2016   Published: 23 May 2016

Abstract

Background: Our study aimed to determine if Grindr™ is an effective means of reaching high-risk men who have sex with men (MSM) for HIV testing. In Los Angeles (LA), Black and Latino MSM have the highest rate of HIV infection, and Black MSM in LA are four-fold more likely than white MSM to not know they are infected with HIV. Those MSM are also major users of social networking apps. Grindr™ was used to provide access to free HIV self-testing. Methods: Free HIV self-test kits were advertised on Grindr™ from 13 October to 11 November 2014, consisting of 300 000 banner ads and three broadcast messages targeting a high-risk HIV population in LA. Eligible participants, Black or Latino, MSM and who were aged ≥18 years of age, were invited to take a survey 2 weeks after test delivery. Results: The website received 4389 unique visitors and 333 test requests, of which 247 (74%) were requests for mailed tests, 58 (17%) were for vouchers and 28 (8%) were for vending machines. Of the 125 participants, 74% reported at least one episode of condomless anal intercourse in the past 3 months, 29% last tested for HIV over 1 year ago and 9% had never been tested. Conclusions: It was feasible to use Grindr™ to distribute HIV self-test kits. Users are willing to provide personal information in exchange for a free self-test and found self-tests acceptable and easy to use. HIV self-testing promotion through apps has a high potential to reach untested high-risk populations.


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