Dating App Tinder Adds STD Testing Locator After Pressure From AIDS Group

By Jose R. Gonzalez | January 28, 2016 | 4:30 PM EST

 

AIDS Healthcare Foundation billboard. (AHF)

(CNSNews.com) -- Tinder, a popular mobile phone app used for dating and casual sexual encounters, added information on where users can get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) after an AIDS advocacy group blamed it for a spike in STD infections.

After denying a link between the hook-up app and the increase in STDs, Tinder said it will now link to a locator for free STD testing via Healthvana.com.

In September, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) unveiled billboards throughout Los Angeles and New York associating the use of Tinder with STDs.

In a Jan. 21 press release praising Tinder’s inclusion of an STD locator, AHF announced it would be removing the billboards mentioning the dating app.

The billboards featured the silhouette of a man’s and a woman’s heads facing each other, with one head labeled with the Tinder logo and the other with the word “chlamydia.” They also featured silhouettes of two men labeled Grindr - a similar app for gay males - with the word “gonorrhea.”

At the time of the billboard launch, the Los Angeles-based AHF cited an Aug. 31 Vanity Fair article on how dating apps are encouraging casual sex among young adults and a May 22 Rhode Island Department of Health report that categorized the use of “social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters” as “high risk behaviour.”    

“In many ways, location-based mobile dating apps are becoming a digital bathhouse for millennials wherein the next sexual encounter can literally just be a few feet away — as well as the next STD,” AFH public health division senior director Whitney Engeran-Cordova was quoted as saying.

In response, Tinder sent the group a cease and desist letter.

 

“These unprovoked and wholly unsubstantiated accusations are made to irreparably damage Tinder’s reputation in an attempt to encourage others to take an HIV test by your organization,” Tinder attorney Jonathan Reichman said in the letter.

“While Tinder strongly supports such testing, the billboard’s statements are not found upon any scientific evidence, and are incapable of withstanding critical analysis.”

AHF, which bills itself as the nation's largest nonprofit global HIV/AIDS organization, provides information on free testing through two websites: freehivtest.net and freestdtesting.org.

Tinder, whose logo includes a flame atop the company name’s lowercase “i,” promotes its success rate at matching users.

“In just three years, more than 10 billion matches have been made around the world on Tinder,” the dating app declares on its blog. “These matches have led to friends, dates, relationships, and everything in between.”

According to an Oct. 29, 2014 New York Times article, Tinder has about 50 million active users.  

In November, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that STDs were on the rise. According to the CDC’s data, cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis had increased for the first time since 2006.  

Related: CDC: US Sexually Transmitted Disease Epidemic Worsening