This Summer, Maltese Grindr users started receiving a message titled:
"Hiv in Malta is up by 57% each year"
Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC), has teamed up with the Grindr team and together we are sending weekly alerts through the Grindr app to encourage individuals to protect themselves, test and know their status.
Grindr and other dating/social apps are often blamed for the SAI (sexually acquired infection) spike in MSM, Although many believe that this alarming increase in SAIs is a recent phenomenon a study conducted by ARC showed that in Malta, a constant 57%* annual HIV increase in MSM has been ongoing since 2009.
ARC believes that this increase is not due to Social/Hookup apps, as websites offering the same services existed way before 2009 (gaydar, gayromeo (now planet romeo), bearwww to mention a few). ARC believes that this increase is due to lack of education, testing and promotion about safer sex practices in Malta. Along with the Grindr messages ARC is also running a parallel SAI educational campaign on Social Media (funded by the Malta LGBTI Community Awards).
Amongst others ARC's educational campaign aims to:
1) Present localised information on the subject. (Services, Treatment, Facts etc)
2) Cultivate a testing culture in Malta (Studies show that 9/10 of HIV infections are acquired through people who do not know their status)
2) Inform people how to protect themselves and their partner/s. (There are many misconceptions)
4) Challenge stigma and misconceptions by putting sexual health issues on the discussion table.
5) Raise awareness to improve the situation of people living with HIV in Malta.
The educational campaign is a part of the ARC LGBTIQ+ Health Work Group's efforts to improve LGBTIQ+ heath in Malta.
ARC thanks Grindr for fully supporting the initiative.
*Local authorities only keep statistics on HIV infections (SAIs)