Dating apps fire back at billboards linking STD spread

Shutterstock Image


LOS ANGELES (AP) — An AIDS health care group is defending an ad campaign in Los Angeles that links popular dating apps with the spread of sexual transmitted diseases.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation targets Tinder, a location-based dating app and Grindr, a similar site for gay men, in billboards and bus benches that are aimed at reminding users about the risks of casual sex and offering free STD tests.

“In many ways, location-based mobile dating apps are becoming a digital bathhouse for millennials wherein the next sexual encounter can literally just be a few feet away — as well as the next STD,” Whitney Engeran-Cordova, senior public health director for the foundation, said in a statement.

Billboards show a silhouette of a man labeled “Tinder” face-to-face with a woman’s silhouette labeled “chlamydia.” A silhouette of a man labeled “Grindr” faces a male silhouette labeled “gonorrhea.”

Reaction from the dating apps was swift.

Within two hours of the first billboard going up, Grindr pulled commercials that the foundation pays for on the dating site to promote free STD testing, the foundation said.

In less than 24 hours, Tinder sent a cease and desist letter claiming the campaign falsely associates the dating app with the spread of venereal diseases.

“These unprovoked and wholly unsubstantiated accusations are made to irreparably damage Tinder’s reputation in an attempt to encourage others to take an HIV test offered by your organization,” a lawyer for Tinder wrote.

The foundation sent a letter to Tinder denying that it disparaged the company and saying it would not remove the reference to the app.

The campaign is intended to draw attention to rising STD rates that the foundation said coincides with the popularity of the sites that make hook-ups easier, said Michael Weinstein, the foundation’s president.

“It’s logical, if you can be hooked up with someone in an urban area within minutes,” he said, “of course you’re going to have to more STDs.”

Email messages sent to Tinder and Grindr for comment were not immediately returned.

The signs are currently on a dozen billboards in Los Angeles and 45 bus benches, Weinstein said.

The Los Angeles-based foundation, which provides health care to HIV and AIDS patients and free sexual disease testing, plans to also put them up in New York City, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s