SOFIA, Bulgaria (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When an LGBT+ charity wanted to do something about soaring rates of HIV among gay men in socially conservative Bulgaria, they turned to an unlikely ally - the dating app Grindr.
Seeking to target sexually active gay men who might not otherwise get checked, the charity offered free HIV self-testing kits to all Grindr’s users in the eastern European country.
“People don’t get tested because of stigma,” said Ivan Dimov of Single Step, the LGBT+ youth charity behind the project. “Testing is associated with sexuality ... Going to a testing facility outside of Sofia in a way equates to revealing to that small community that you live in that you are gay.”
HIV infections are falling across the world, but eastern Europe is bucking the trend - there, the annual number of new HIV infections has roughly doubled over 20 years.
In Bulgaria, the number of gay and bisexual men being infected is rising by nearly a third year-on-year, showed data from the health ministry presented at a conference last week.
“If this continues, it will turn into an epidemic,” said Professor Hristo Taskov from the National Centre for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases. Read more via Reuters