5,000 Grindr guys spill the tea on PrEP

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If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of sexually active gay men who gets busy via Grindr, listen up. Even if you’re not, a new study by the app with an assist from the CDC is still worth a look.

So your personal brand of gay sex includes more than one partner. Welcome to the very busy club. In the interest of science – and the health of its users – Grindr For Equality looked at the HIV-prevention regimen PrEP in a survey of more than 4,700 Grindr guys. With help from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Gilead Sciences, the makers of PrEP drug Truvada, the men shared their use of and attitudes about the drug.

The results were fascinating. About 25 percent of the men are already taking PrEP as part of their daily regimen, and another 56 percent are interested in taking it in the future. 

If we add in the guys who say they aren’t interested because they don’t have enough information about PrEP yet – another 8 percent, basically everybody is talking about it, according to the study.

Who does that leave? Anxious semi-closeted rural guys, especially those of color, with LGBT-incompetent or clueless medical providers. Well, mostly.

1,213 users (25.5% of those surveyed) reported currently being on PrEP. An additional 2,655(55.7% of those surveyed) were interested in taking it in the future. Of the racial cohorts, Latinos were the least likely to be currently taking PrEP.

Rural respondents faced a variety of increased hurdles to accessing PrEP, notably including lack of access to LGBT-competent doctors and community clinics.

Anxiety. 1 out of 20 respondents that were currently on PrEP rated the anxiety they had about bringing it up with their doctor at a 1 or 2 on a 5-point scale with 1 being the most nervous. 17% of respondents who weren’t currently on PrEP but want to be said anxiety about talking to their doctor was part of why they hadn’t started. 3.9% of those who were not interested in taking it said anxiety about talking to their doctor contributed to their disinterest.

Doctor Pushback. 1 out of 10 respondents who were currently on PrEP, reported they had trouble getting their doctor to prescribe it for them. This figure was double for Black respondents. Of those who were not currently on PrEP but want to be, 5.7% said their doctor refused to prescribe it. …

Outness. 3.6% of those who are currently on PrEP said they were not ‘out’ to their doctor. 21.2% of those who weren’t on PrEP but would like to be said not being out to their doctor was a factor. 7.6% of those who were not on PrEP and don’t want to be said that not being ‘out’ to their doctor contributed to their disinterest.

Doctors’ Silence. Most respondents said they found out about PrEP from their friends. Only one in ten reported hearing about it from their doctor.

Whether you're on Grindr or not, that's good info if you're sexually active and non-monogamous. Perhaps most interestingly, the majority of guys already on PrEP say that they don’t face stigma from other men about it. Conversely, guys who aren’t on PrEP were the ones more likely to fear a perceived stigma for taking it.

Stigma. Among those who are currently on PrEP, only 2.9% rated their concern over stigma as “extreme” whereas 52.3% said “unconcerned.” 24.6 of those who are not currently taking PrEP but would like to said stigma played a role. 

There are lots more interesting tidbits to upack, and Grindr does a pretty good job of it in the video below. The study results and the video came out in conjunction with World AIDS Day, and the hookup app is also using the occasion to announce a plan for more testing, protection, prevention and treatment. Grindr Founder Joel Simkhai will also participate in a new campaign to promote testing that launches on Dec. 7.

So much for the AIDS agency that shamed Grindr as just a “digital bathhouse.” Not to mention those dwindling PrEP naysayers who say it's just a “party drug.” Oh wait, same people.

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