For the first time ever, representatives from seven of the largest gay dating and hook-up websites and apps came together with HIV and STI prevention leaders from around the country to discuss how to create healthier online communities for gay and bisexual men. The meeting was organized by San Francisco AIDS Foundation with funding from amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, with three main goals:
Learn about the online survey:
Since the days of AOL Chat rooms, there's been talk of how dating/hookup sites aimed at men can work in tandem with HIV/STD prevention efforts. In 2010, staff at Stop AIDS Project set out find answers to that question in a groundbreaking way. Along with partners California HIV/STD Prevention Training Center and the San Francisco Department of Health, they conducted a national survey of public health officials, website owners and the patrons of some of these sites.
A survey was developed with 41 different online prevention strategies and asked all three groups to respond from their perspective. Some of these strategies were already being carried out on many sites, such as outreach and profile screens. Others were new -- such as offering tailored health advice through hook-up sites. Over 3000 users answered questions about which ideas they would use or support; 18 owners responded to ideas they would host on their site; and 82 directors responded to ideas they thought were most likely to reduce HIV or STD transmission.
Eight ideas were found that all three groups readily supported. One example is signing up for optional reminders for STD and/or HIV tests, at a frequency chosen by the user. Users said they would use this feature. Web owners said this was the type of intervention they could see incorporting onto their site and public health officials said they believe it could reduce the overall rates of HIV/STD transmission.
The study results were published in AIDS and Behavior.