NYC hospital uses popular dating apps to encourage HIV testing


A teaching hospital in New York City is using an innovative strategy to encourage testing among people at risk of contracting HIV — reaching out to them on dating apps, NBC News reports.

Employees of 350-bed Wyckoff Heights Medical Center are using such apps as Grindr, Jack'd and Scruff, which are popular in LGBTQ communities, to contact people who may need testing for sexually transmitted infections. Employees join the apps and chat with users, asking simple, noninvasive questions before offering sexual health services, including help setting up appointments for testing.

The program launched in 2016, and since then has resulted in more than 300 patients coming to the facility. Antón Castellanos-Usigli, who started the program, told NBC News that of the 233 clients the program brought in between 2016 and 2018, more than 60 percent were referred to pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention.

And how did app users respond?

Andrew Gonzalez, a program manager at the center, told NBC News that the app users are either grateful for the information and help or are disappointed that the interaction will not result in a real date.

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