STD Testing on Dating Apps

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STD Testing on Dating Apps

Sexually Transmitted Diseases are in an all-time high in the US. Various dating apps are planning to increase STD awareness in their platforms through the use of partner notifications. However, these are currently in pilot tests and have not yet been fully implemented. This is one of the reasons why information regarding the successful implementation of STD verification in dating apps could not be found.

Useful Information

  • In 2016, Tinder and Grindr avoided talking about their "roles" in the rise of STDs. However, due to the increasing pressures from the public and various health officials linking dating apps and high-risk sexual behaviors, dating apps have started to openly discuss their role n the rise of STDs in the US.
  • The increase of STDs had led to various dating apps finding ways to increase STD awareness in their platforms. As per Mashable, Grindr and other gay dating apps are partnering with Building Healthy Online Communities to implement STD partner notifications into their platforms.
  • As per the studies of BHOC, STD partner notifications are more widely accepted with the use of Geosocial networking apps (GSN) and staying anonymous in the notification.
  • Tinder has also implemented a function in its platform that would help users locate the nearest STD testing center.
  • Various STD verification apps such as Safe have also been supported by the public and private investors, reaching a $1.2 million in seed funding from Rivet Capital and other investors.

Research Strategy

The research team started the search by looking into pre-compiled case studies of the successful implementations of STD testing/verification on dating apps. During the search, we found various articles regarding the rise of STD and the blaming of dating apps like Tinder and Grindr because of it. The search helped the team direct our search, as it provided examples such as Hornet and Daddyhunt, which provided some verification for STDs. However, we did not find any case studies regarding the successful implementation of STD testing/verification of dating apps.

The team then decided to take a more specific and direct approach by looking into the top dating apps and see if they provide STD testing/verification (these include the submission of test results before joining the app, the apps’ ability to confirm STD tests through online verification with clinics, and others) before joining the community or before joining the app. The team hypothesized that if various dating apps provide STD testing/verification during the last few years, then they might have a case study regarding the given program. During the search, we were able to find the Tinder app’s ability to refer to the nearest STD testing center. However, this was not a verifying tool quite similar to the NeatClub. The search also led us to an article that stated the various approaches that popular dating apps are using to increase awareness of STDs in their platform. However, once again, it was not a verifying tool, but rather, reminders and STD testing center locators.

We then decided to look into dating apps that solely pair individuals with STDs. The team hypothesized that these dating apps should have STD verification tools within their apps to identify whether the individual is STD positive or not. An article from Vice helped direct this search, as it stated various dating apps for people that have STDs. These apps include Positive Singles, Hope, POZ, and PozMatch. We visited these sites to see whether they have STD verification tools in their apps. Regarding this search, we found that these apps do not use STD verification tools, but instead rely on their users to input their STD status.

The team then decided to look into organizations that help combat STDs in the US, such as Building Healthy Online Communities, the AIDS foundation, Planned Parenthood, and others. We hypothesized that since some dating apps work with these organizations to help increase STD awareness (as indicated by the BHOC and Grindr relationship in the Mashable article), they might have case studies regarding the effectiveness of STD verification tools within some dating apps. However, during the search, we found that most studies concentrated on the effectiveness of partner STD notifications and updates, and nothing on the success of STD verification on dating apps.

We then did a general media search regarding STD verification apps and their partnerships with dating sites. The team hypothesized that dating apps might use STD verification apps such as Safe, Hula, and others in their apps instead of having their own. During the search, we found that Safe positions itself as a sexual health company and have not yet partnered with any dating apps. There has been a partnership between Hula and Mister, but we could not identify whether it was on the app or not. We looked into the app, and it did not mention anything about Hula, and that it states that users were the one to disclose STD status.

Lastly, we decided to look into research studies regarding dating apps and STD verification to see whether studies have published topics regarding the successful implementation of STD verification in dating apps. We visited various sites such as Research Gate, NCBI, and others. We found a study regarding dating apps and high-risk sexual behavior in Hong Kong, but nothing about the given topic. Other results were similar to the ones published by BHOC earlier, and those were about STD notifications and STD testing center locators, and not about the successful implementation of STD verification in dating sites. After the exhaustive search, the team concluded that case studies regarding the successful implementation of STD verification in dating apps could not be found. This might be because dating apps are still considering the idea and have not yet implemented them.
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