AIDS Group Recommends Hook-Up Site Changes
California AIDS advocates are calling on the owners of popular gay dating and ‘hook-up’ websites to make changes to their pages that advocates think could lead to a decrease in the spread of HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases within the community they serve.
The San Francisco-based STOP AIDS Project released a study last week that was conducted among 3,000 online users, about 80 state and local HIV and STD Program directors, and more than a dozen owners of websites catering to men who have sex with men or MSM.
Jen Hecht is the Education Director at STOP AIDS and was one of the study’s co-authors. She tells OutQ News that her team presented the three groups with 41 ideas that could possibly help curb infection rates among MSM.
HECHT: In public health, it’s good to go where people are, and we know that gay and bisexual men are going online to meet their partners. So we really wanted to use that medium as a way of working on HIV and STD transmission prevention.
Hecht says of the 41 ideas presented to the three groups, a majority of them agreed upon the following: including “safe sex” as a profile option and allowing users to search based on that characteristic; providing directories of STD testing locations and access to sexual health experts; sending automatic reminders to get tested; having chat rooms designated specifically for HIV positive men; posting informational videos discussing safe sex and HIV status; and providing e-cards to notify partners of potential STD exposure.
Hecht says her group’s goal is now to maintain an open dialogue with the web site owners, site visitors, and HIV groups to ensure protection for gay and bi men online.