US: New York health department advertises PrEP on Grindr

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

New York’s health department has launched an advertising campaign to promote HIV-preventative drugs on hookup apps.

According to Newsday, the New York City health department has spent $500,000 to promote the use of controversial PrEP drug Truvada, – a daily pill which reduces the risk of HIV infection by up to 99%.

The ‘Share the Night, Not HIV’ campaign predominantly targets users of hookup apps including Grindr and Scruff, as well as hay men on Twitter and Facebook.

Dr Demetre Daskalakis, the Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, said the campaign is hoping to target at young black and Latino men, who are statistically more at risk of HIV transmission.

He added: “There’s not a lot of doctors who can say, ‘I’ve done thousands of HIV [blood] tests with my hands in dark sex clubs’. I have done that.”

However, Michael Weinstein, head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation – which opposes the use of PrEP on the grounds that it is less effective if the pill is not taken every day – attacked the health department.

Mr Weinstein said: “The first order of business in medical ethics is ‘do no harm,’ and what the New York City Health Department’s doing is doing harm, because there are people who are going to take this drug intermittently, who are going to think they’re protected, who are going to not be protected.”

“Could there be an increased rate of STIs? Yeah. Absolutely. Ultimately PrEP is a harm-reduction approach, not a harm-elimination approach.”

Last month, San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener became one of the first politicians in the US to announce publicly that he’s taking PrEP drugs in order to reduce the risk of HIV infection.



In the UK, PrEP is currently still in its experimental trial period, but some campaigners are already calling for it to be made available on the NHS.