Using gay dating apps to promote sexual health

A health center in Brooklyn has been incorporating gay dating apps into its efforts to improve sexual health among the diverse and at-risk population it serves.

The innovative approach was launched in 2016 at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center by Antón Castellanos-Usigli, who was serving as the center’s director of HIV/STI prevention programs. Castellanos-Usigli is currently a doctoral candidate at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

A January 3, 2020 NBC News article described how the health center uses apps such as Grindr, Jack’d, and Scruff to connect with community members who may benefit from health services. Staffers strike up chats with other users on the apps, and in the course of the chats offer sexual health services. Since its launch, the program has brought in more than 300 clients to the health center, many of them black and Hispanic gay men and trans women—groups that are disproportionately affected by HIV. The new clients have been offered services such as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) for HIV prevention, counseling, and help with health insurance, employment, housing, and legal issues.

Castellanos-Usigli told NBC News that the program’s success “speaks to the power that this strategy has.”

Read the NBC News article: From Grindr to PrEP: Innovative sexual health program flourishes in NYC