Risky Business

Is Hornet The Hookup App With A Conscience?

gastongrindr2Good news, sluts! Social friend-making apps are making it easier to make informed decisions and arrange safe sexual trysts.

Case in point: Hornet, which just added a little tool to help you find HIV testing centers near you. The widget appears at the top of your “favorites” list, and looks just like another user’s profile. Open a chat and type “info” to get info about PrEP, the drug regimen that can prevent HIV transmission. And type “find” to locate a testing center.

The tool works anywhere in the United States, and Hornet is working with health agencies to open it up to other countries. The popular app’s attention to stopping the spread of HIV doesn’t end there: if you get tested, you can add a “Know Your Status” badge to your profile. The badge stays active if you’re poz, or until you’re due for your next test.

The timing could not be better for this feature. Transmission rates among young gay men more than doubled from 2002 to 2011, even as it declined among groups like women, people of color, and injection drug users.

Hornet isn’t the only sexytime app with helpful advice. Tinder users might also encounter some health tips from a profile known as “Nurse Nicole.” But this isn’t an officially-sanctioned account; it’s the work of two advertising students who just want to encourage men to see a doctor regularly. The students are enduring painful pickup lines (such as an offer to take Nurse Nicole out to Applebee’s) in order to encourage strangers to get their balls checked for cancer.

Health county officials in San Mateo did the same thing on Grindr: they created fake profiles to urge users to get tested.

And in an official capacity, Grindr has started educating users about PrEP.