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Should Grindr Filter By HIV Status?

The gay dating (sex) app Grindr is surveying some users about offering a filter to help stigmatize and serosort HIV positive identifying users. Wha?

This morning after I woke up, and finished reading through my morning newsfeed on Facebook and read the “what you missed” best Tweets, I tapped the orange and white skull icon on my phone. It was time to read my missed messages on Grindr from overnight.

As soon as the (miracle) screen loaded, Grindr asked me to complete a survey. I hate surveys but I tapped ‘ok.’

The questions that were asked all primarily revolved around HIV, and you all already know that I was all in. But unfortunately, they raise serious questions to me about Grindr’s intention to regulate an atmosphere of disclosure of HIV punishment, and Grindr’s potential interest in perpetuating the false idea that if someone says that they are negative–than it must be true.

Grindr HIV image image image image image image image image image image image

As we know according to the CDC, 1 in 8 of those living with HIV are not aware of their infection. And thus aren’t on medication and aren’t reaching an undetectable level of the virus in their body– and are by definition: infectious and potentially exposing others.

I have been one of the few writing and publishing articles about HIV that have been less critical of gay dating (sex) apps. I been published the ways the dating apps are actually helping us talk about HIV. And I covered the funny story of a large HIV nonprofit targeting these apps in a campaign, but I am concerned about the possible direction of creating an environment on Grindr, by Grindr, of not encouraging disclosure and creating a false sense of HIV prevention by filtering out those that honestly admit to living with HIV.

What do you think?

Should Grindr allow users to filter out those that admit to living with HIV? Or should Grindr allow users to determine how to discuss that topic?

And what if someone lies. Some people catfish and send pictures that aren’t theirs, so what if someone wasn’t honest in their profile because they were not interested in the public knowing their status?

And finally, would not answering the question, lying about HIV status, or otherwise be a new tool for the legal system to target and criminalize HIV?

11 Comments Join the Conversation →


  • kpike

    I feel like its good to have these in place. My only issue is that they stop no one from actually telling the truth. I belong to an organization that offers an HIV support group which I attend. In order to get into the group the clients must prove their status via letter or email from PMP. One member I see regularly on sites like A4A and Manhunt but I never looked at his profile until recently only to discover he totes himself as “HIV Negative and on PREP”. For HIPPA reasons I kept my mouth shut though I brought the topic up in group one week. My other issue is the serious lack of information in the community. On a lot of profiles I see “tested negative *six months ago*” which seems to indicate these men think one test and they’re good to go for long periods without retesting or dont care to.

  • Aaron Mc

    I think that they should have the place to disclose it but i don’t think it should have the option to filter, because people lie all time on profiles anyway… I always like the option of “Ask Me” cause it shows if the people that are contacting you are actually worried…

  • David Heitz

    If nothing else, I’m glad they made the survey regardless of how they proceed. They’ve got the sample that matters in all this above all samples, in my opinion. I hope they continue to ask question and team up with academia and publish some research in peer reviewed journals.

  • John-Manuel Andriote

    “Should Grindr allow users to filter out those that admit to living with HIV?” What is wrong with this question? Wow! Ok, I will “admit” to living with HIV–though I will also “admit” that I was HIV-negative until I was 47 (I’m 57 now). I never realized, before or since my diagnosis, that living with HIV was something one “admitted” to–like a crime, for example. Great that Grindr wants to educate gay men about HIV, but furthering the viral divide between us is NOT the way to do it. Pandering to ignorance instead of encouraging informed choicemaking is NOT helpful.

    • Ken Monteith

      I was trying to see where anyone had used the word “admit”. Couldn’t find it. 😉

  • harleymc

    Scruff has the option of ticking that you’re poz, but no option to tick if neg. You can also choose to be ‘into’ poz but no filter the other way.

    In large cities you get a fair few who tick poz, but in smaller cities and towns it’s very rare. I was pretty happy using a positive positive filter to find my man.

    The one thing that does irk me is the HIV exceptionalism. Filters being proposed for HIV but not for hep C or hep B, how about HPV, or herpes or tuberculosis or… The list could be close to infinite.

  • Athari8178

    I’m HIV+ and undetectable and I’d love to be able to have the option to look specifically for other HIV+ guys. I probably wouldn’t use it all the time, but sometimes it’s nice to look for someone knowing that you won’t be rejected out of hand for having HIV.

  • Ken Monteith

    Other apps already do this. Hornet has its “Know Your Status” function, with similar choices to what is offered in the Grindr survey, but with a date added (date of last HIV or Viral Load test, depending on your category). I think it also allows to sort, but only for a status that matches yours (ie : only poz guys can filter to see the other guys who list themselves as poz). We can probably all agree that serosorting works for HIV+ people, but not so much for HIV- (or think they are) people. And none of it is required, so you can choose to disclose or not and many people on other apps with the choice choose to disclose or not disclose as they wish. There is enough variation that you really can’t draw any conclusions from the decision not to check any of the boxes.

    So why not?

  • JD2014

    I’d be glad to have the option of filtering out hiv+ guys, just like there are already filters for race and age.
    Just a quick example, I was talking a few nights ago with a guy I’ve noticed on a few of the apps. Banal conversation about a recent breakup I’ve been dealing with. After an hour or so he moves the conversation to sex, sends me several pics, and says he wants to meet me to make me feel better. Meaning sex. No where on his profile did he have any status written down, but when he started asking if he could bareback me, and would I let him finish inside, I said I only use condoms, would he be ok using them. His reply surprised me, saying no, and that while he’s hiv+ he’s also undetectable, so we wouldn’t need condoms. WTF. Being able to filter out guys like him, if they do indeed fill out the info truthfully, would have saved both of us time.

  • I feel strongly that Grindr should NOT get into the HIV poz or neg game. Firstly: It’s a violation of privacy and HIPAA Laws. While apps and websites have asked the question of gay men for years, it is illegal to do so in the US. In addition, if you look at the terms of service (small print) you will see that they bear no responsibility or liability for anything. In the olden days before apps and online hook up sites you had to have a discussion about HIV. I know it’s a radical thought, but people talked about it, no one whispered, and it was handled in largely a mature way. Now no one discusses HIV and they rely on what a site tells them, and lots of profiles are inaccurate. Plus people might be unaware of their status or might not care. If people are forced to address it and discuss it, it complies with the law, it’s healthier and it respects people’s privacy. I think that every hook up site or app that has a check mark for poz or neg has harmed the community – because no one really discusses the issue. So many young guys coming out now don’t have a clue about HIV. Now that PrEP is becoming the rule rather than the exception, it will diminish the need for such a loud public disclosure.

  • harleymc

    I understand JD2014’s frustration at having wasted time, deciding that he has a different notion of what safe sex is compared with a stranger’s notion of what safe sex is. The solution is not to identify who thinks that they are HIV positive or thinks they are HIV negative.

    The solution is to be upfront about safer sex practices, ie condoms only, treatment as prevention, PreP etc.

    Sero sorting has been failing men for over 30 years.