How Gay Social Apps Can Educate and Empower Guys About HIV and STI Prevention
Even though medical advancements have helped people living with HIV enjoy long, healthy lives, HIV-positive people can still feel isolated and stigmatized by HIV-phobia. Luckily, Hornet, the world’s premier gay social network and parent company of this site, is helping HIV-positive guys connect locally with Know Your Status (KYS), a feature that allows men to openly state their HIV status within the app so that they can support one another.
Hornet’s Senior Health Innovation Strategist, Alex Garner, spoke about the benefits of connecting HIV-positive men at the recent STI & HIV World Congress in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. To paraphrase Garner, he said it’s one thing to know you aren’t the only HIV-positive person in the world. It’s another thing entirely to realize you aren’t the only HIV-positive person on your block.
Garner pointed out that even so-called educational and awareness campaigns meant to inform the public about HIV and STIs sometimes use fear-based and stigmatizing messages that perpetuate and reinforce stigma rather than alleviating it.
How gay apps like Hornet can educate and empower men to prevent HIV
In contrast, Hornet created one of the first pieces of marketing featuring the experiences of gay men living with HIV. The ad campaign, entitled “Making Connections That Can Change The World,” depicted affirmative experiences on the Hornet app between an HIV-positive man and another guy, highlighting how such connections can have an impact on people’s lives and the larger community.
Hornet has a long history of working on public initiatives around HIV. During the 2016 Rio Olympic Summer Games, Hornet worked with the Health Ministry of Brazil, UNAIDS and UNESCO to create a program entitled “Close Certo,” a peer-to-peer based educational initiative that helped provide gay Brazilian men better information about health options. The program used the app to let users engage each other about their lived experience around HIV testing, treatment, living with HIV and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis, drugs that prevent HIV from replicating in the body within 24 to 72 hours of exposure).
Hornet has also supported research about HIV among gay and bi men living in Turkey as well as a 2016 study with European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control establishing the need for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a pill that can help reduce the chance of HIV transmission up to 99%.
Featured image by KIVILCIM PINAR via iStock