Hornet, a social network for gay men, and AIDS Concern have launched a joint initiative to promote early HIV testing among Hornet users. Hornet puts up promotional banners of the testing service of AIDS Concern for free on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for Hong Kong users. Users can click on the banners and be directed to the online booking system of AIDS Concern, where they can make appointments for free, anonymous and confidential HIV, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea tests. This is the first collaboration of Hornet with an NGO in Hong Kong to promote testing among gay men.
Hornet’s Health Innovation Team has initiatives around the world to promote sexual health of gay men and AIDS Concern is glad to be one of Hornet’s partners. AIDS Concern believes that HIV testing can be seen as a routine form of checkup and has always sought to promote HIV testing in innovative ways. Norman Kwan from AIDS Concern says: ‘Hornet is a great platform to promote HIV testing as its users in Hong Kong can know more about our testing service. Last year AIDS Concern launched our Chrysanthemum Tea campaign that promoted knowing one’s HIV status early by getting tested. That campaign drew much attention of the gay community with its video and especially designed packages of tea. This collaboration with Hornet can help us to get the message deeper into the community.’
In Hong Kong there were 725 new HIV infections in 2015, the highest since records began in 1984. The figures show a persistent rise in the number of HIV infections from gay and bisexual contact. AIDS Concern has a specialist team that promotes HIV prevention for the gay community. Norman Kwan adds: ‘We have good connections with the gay community and aim to maintain a gay-friendly service. All of our voluntary counselling and testing workers get training about the culture of the gay community. Early testing is the main thing we promote alongside safer sex. This is because even if one is infected with HIV, early and appropriate treatment can keep the viral load in the body low and reduce the chance of transmission to others by 96% according to the HIV Prevention Trials Network 052 study in 2011. Not a lot of people in the gay community in Hong Kong know about this.’
Regional Health Innovation Strategist of Hornet Lieu Anh Vu says, ‘’Not only does Hornet care about our users’ health and wellbeing, we constantly improve the app with innovations such as the Know Your Status feature in the app, or our sex-friendly #BlueRibbonBoys campaign with Global Forum on MSM and HIV This is only the beginning and we look forward to continuous collaboration with local civil society and community organizations to create a safe and fun online space for gay men in Hong Kong and around Asia.”
Hornet was the first dating app to introduce Know Your Status feature which encourages gay men to understand more about their health. Users can choose to disclose their HIV status as positive, negative, positive and undetectable, or negative and on PrEP. Having more than just negative or positive as an option allows gay men to learn different ways they can protect their health as such access early treatment and prevention tools. The date next to the status will remind users to update their status every 6 months.
Hornet’s Blue Ribbon Boys campaign, a collaboration with Global Forum on MSM and HIV, on the other hand, reignites user’s commitment to promoting health in community and advocating for universal access to ARV and PrEP for all gay men. The campaign operates through an online survey where users answer questions about testing habit, their treatment and prevention activities. Those who finish the survey will receive a blue ribbon on their profile signifying their commitment to community health.