Should dating apps have HIV filters?

Are dating apps and sites about to get much more personal? Dating apps and sites offer the option to filter matches by ethnicity, age, sex, height or religion — but it seems there might be some more filter ideas.

After uploading your best selfies as profile photos and writing a well-crafted bio for a dating app, your next thought is, “What type of person am I actually looking for?” (or something like that)

Well, this summer, Grindr, a gay social networking app received some backlash for asking in a user survey “What is your current HIV status?” and “How would you feel if Grindr allowed you to filter the guys you see by HIV status?”

In a statement, a Grindr representative said the survey is an effort to better understand its users and to encourage discussions.

“We have observed a significant increase in user profiles openly discussing their HIV status and test dates. Given that this has not been a part of our profile options to date, we are surveying users to determine both their desire to share this information, and ways to prevent stigma and provide proper support,” the statement said. “Sometimes this involves asking uncomfortable questions.”

A Ph.D candidate who got screenshots of the survey from his friend posted it online and called the filter a “digital quarantine.”

Relationship and public health experts have said that STD and HIV filters on a dating app or site might do more harm than good because although a HIV filter could have the benefit of letting HIV-positive people meet other HIV-positive people and offer support to each other.

It also could have a dark side: creating a false sense of security, that could lead HIV-negative people to think that the filtered matches consist of only HIV-negative people. From there, they might engage in unprotected sex and this could lead to HIV infections because, one, the potential partner might not be telling the truth in order to be able to get partners or to avoid stigma, and also the person may simply have engaged in behaviors recently that result in status change that they just don’t know yet.

Another concern is that such filters could increase stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV by further isolating them socially and resulting in less people willing to get tested,”.

The alternative?

Instead of a filter, experts said, it would be better to leave the choice to users.

What do you think?


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