Public health and app owners working together to support gay men’s health.
Building Healthy Online Communities (BHOC) is a consortium of public health leaders and gay dating website and app owners who are working together support HIV and STI prevention online.
Dan Wohlfeiler and Jen Hecht, who have more than 40 years of combined experience in HIV and STD prevention, co-founded BHOC in 2014. Dan Wohlfeiler directs BHOC and it is additionally staffed by the National Coalition of STD Directors and San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
Dan and Jen have built strong relationships with app and website owners and have found many opportunities for collaboration. These include developing profile options that allow users to make informed choices about their partners; coordinating development and placement of public health messaging about STD and HIV prevention and treatment; and supporting initiatives to allow users to notify their partners that they may have been exposed to an STD.
After conducting research to determine which online prevention strategies had the support of app and site users, owners, and STD and HIV program directors, BHOC convened a groundbreaking meeting between owners and public health leaders in September 2014. Owners were eager to collaborate to promote testing, provide accurate information, reduce stigma, and implement the most effective interventions to reduce the impact of HIV and STDs. They also told public health leaders they wanted guidance as to how best to promote gay men’s health.
Public health professionals at the meeting included representatives from San Francisco AIDS Foundation, National Coalition of STD Directors, NASTAD, AIDS United, and Project Inform. They continue to take active roles in informing and implementing BHOC efforts.
Key site and app owners who have collaborated with BHOC include Adam4Adam, BarebackRT, Black Gay Chat, Daddyhunt/Mr X., Dudesnude, Gay.com, Grindr, Growlr, Hornet, POZ Personals, and Scruff.
For more information on the formative research survey used to guide prevention efforts online, please see the resources linked below:
Building Healthy Online Communities held a meeting of STD/HIV program directors, HIV community-based organizations, and CDC representatives on Dec. 9, 2015 to discuss next steps in prioritizing interventions and research for prevention on dating sites and apps. Please click here for the report to find out more about the meeting.