05 Oct MSM: Grindr™ Users More Likely to Use or Initiate PrEP, But Frequently Engage in High Risk Behavior
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Martin Hoenigl, MD
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Technology has changed the way men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) seek sex. Over 60% of MSM in the US use the internet and/or smartphone-based geospatial networking apps to find sex partners. Grindr™, a sophisticated geosocial networking app, is the most frequently used dating app among MSM in the United States. Previous research has shown that MSM who use Grindr™ have a greater frequency risky sexual behavior, and more sexual partners, but little is known about the association between Grindr™ use and prevention behavior such as the use of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
We evaluated risk behavior, PrEP use, and Grindr™ usage among MSM receiving community-based HIV and bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening in central San Diego. Participants who tested negative for HIV and who were not on PrEP were offered immediate PrEP.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Overall, 580/1,256 (46%) participants indicated that they used Grindr™ in the previous 7 days. Grindr™ users reported significantly higher risk behavior (greater number of male partners and condomless sex) and were more likely to test positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea (8.6% vs. 4.7% of non-users; p=0.005). Grindr™ users were also more likely to be on PrEP (18.7% vs. 8.7% of non-users; p<0.001) and had fewer newly diagnosed HIV infections (9 vs. 26 among non-users; p=0.014). Grindr™ users not on PrEP were nearly twice as likely as non-users to initiate PrEP after the testing encounter (24.6% vs. 14%; p<0.001).
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Given the higher risk behavior and greater acceptance of PrEP among Grindr™ users, PrEP promotional messages on the Grindr™ platform could enhance PrEP uptake, as well as increase testing for HIV and STIs. The surge of dating apps and their association with high risk sex, offers unique opportunities for broad delivery of prevention messages. GrindrTM may provide a real opportunity to reach those at risk and substantially increase PrEP awareness and uptake.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future research should focus on how to effectively deliver prevention messages on Grindr™. Grindr™ commercially offers banner ads, which can convey an HIV prevention message allowing messages to be targeted toward specific regions with messages that are tailored toward specific PrEP providers. However, generic banner ads may be less effective at reaching hidden-populations. Banners and advertisements generally do not harness the social dimension of geospatial networking apps. Therefore, a more personalized delivery of prevention messages, may be more effective than banner ads for delivering prevention messages to Grindr™ users, but this needs to be investigated in future studies.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: One of the limitations of our study was that we did not collect data on the usage of other geospatial networking app platforms (such as Scruff, Hornet, etc.) which may be used by some of the participants and biased the results of comparisons between Grindr users and non-users toward the null. Nevertheless, with Grindr being the most popular app, it is likely that users of these other apps were also Grindr™ users.
Dr. Hoenigl received grant funding from Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Citation: ID Week 2019 Abstract
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