Today marks our seventh anniversary. Seven years of helping men connect. Seven years of changing how people think about everything from location to technology. And seven years of hard work and fun along the way.
I can’t thank you, our users, enough, and all the people who work here at Grindr every day, for joining me on this trip. When this started in my house, there was no way I could have known where this would take us, but I am beyond thankful that every one of you has joined me.
Every day is a new challenge, and that keeps me stimulated, excited, and thrilled to come in and spend time with you. And every day I am out in the world, meeting you, hearing your stories, I can only marvel at how far we have come.
And be thrilled at how much fun the next chapter of this journey is going to be.
Today, let’s celebrate Grindr. And our tribe, all over the world.
Recently we took a major step forward that we want to share with you, our users. Grindr has agreed to take on a majority investment from a new partner, Beijing Kunlun Tech Co., which is a huge vote of confidence in our vision to connect gay men to even more of the world around them. You can read the full story in The New York Times.
For nearly seven years, Grindr has self-funded its growth, and in doing so, we have built the largest network for gay men in the world. We have taken this investment in our company to accelerate our growth, to allow us to expand our services for you, and to continue to ensure that we make Grindr the number one app and brand for our millions of users.
It will generally be business as usual for us here at Grindr, but with a renewed sense of purpose and additional resources to deliver a great product to you. We hope you are enjoying our app and know you will be delighted by the new features and services we have planned this year.
Most importantly, none of this growth and change would have been possible without the hard work of our Grindr employees and partners, who have made so much happen in just under seven years, and keep me inspired every day to keep growing our brand.
When we created Grindr for Equality, we envisioned education and support for sexual health in addition to our work for LGBTQ rights. Today, World AIDS Day, we proudly recommit to these efforts, which exist in a four-pronged plan for your health.
Testing– We’re ensuring Grindr users around the world know where and when they can access LGBTQ-competent, anonymous STI testing.
Protection– We’re sharing the most up-to-date information in the languages our users are most comfortable with so they can make informed decisions about using protection every time they have sex.
Prevention– We are increasing access to STI prevention tools like PrEP, the HPV vaccine, and, someday soon, theherpes vaccine.
Treatment– We are supporting Grindr users who are HIV+ to gain access to treatment. We are also committed to fighting the stigma attached to being HIV.
In the latter half of 2015, we took a deep dive into the third piece of this plan, as we sought to understand our users’ experience with pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.
For those who may not know, PrEP refers to any medication taken by HIV-negative people to reduce their likelihood of getting HIV. The most common and only U.S. FDA-approved drug in this category right now is called Truvada, which is taken daily and has been shown to be extremely effective in preventing HIV infection. In fact, the U.S. CDC just published a reportrecommending that 1 in 4 gay and bi men should take PrEP.
So along with our partners at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) and with help from theCenter for Disease Control and the Gilead science team, we fielded a survey and heard from Grindr users who shared their experiences. We’re very excited here to be able to share a little bit of what we found.
1,213 users (25.5% of those surveyed) reported currently being on PrEP. An additional 2,655(55.7% of those surveyed) were interested in taking it in the future. Of the racial cohorts,Latinoswere the least likely to be currently taking PrEP.
Information. Grindr users want more general information about PrEP. 51.4% of those who aren’t on it but want to be said they didn’t know enough about it. 37.3% of those who weren’t interested in taking it at all said lack of information contributed to their disinterest.
Rural respondents faced a variety of increased hurdles to accessing PrEP, notably including lack of access to LGBT-competent doctors and community clinics.
Anxiety. 1 out of 20 respondents that were currently on PrEP rated the anxiety they had about bringing it up with their doctor at a 1 or 2 on a 5-point scale with 1 being the most nervous. 17% of respondents who weren’t currently on PrEP but want to be said anxiety about talking to their doctor was part of why they hadn’t started. 3.9% of those who were not interested in taking it said anxiety about talking to their doctor contributed to their disinterest.
Doctor Pushback. 1 out of 10 respondents who were currently on PrEP, reported they had trouble getting their doctor to prescribe it for them. This figure was double for Black Of those who were not currently on PrEP but want to be, 5.7% said their doctor refused to prescribe it.
Adherence. 35.2% of those who weren’t taking PrEP but would like to said they were anxious about having to take a pill consistently everyday. On the other hand, over 90% of respondents currently on PrEP said they had taken all seven doses over the past week.
Side Effects. There is some concern over immediate side effects among respondents, but there is much more anxiety about PrEP being new and the possibility of facing long-term side effects or unknowns in the future.
Outness. 3.6% of those who are currently on PrEP said they were not ‘out’ to their doctor. 21.2% of those who weren’t on PrEP but would like to be said not being out to their doctor was a factor. 7.6% of those who were not on PrEP and don’t want to be said that not being ‘out’ to their doctor contributed to their disinterest.
Health Insurance. A large majority (91.2%) of respondents were accessing PrEP through their health insurance with only 1.9% reporting they did not have any insurance. More than half of respondents currently taking PrEP were making use of Gilead’s copay or medication assistance programs. Of those who were not currently taking PrEP but would like to, 16.8% said one of the reasons was a lack of health insurance. 13.0% of those who were not currently taking PrEP but would like to, said they have insurance but it won’t cover PrEP. 19.3% of those who are not interested in taking PrEP said issues of insurance contributed to their disinterest.
Stigma. Among those who are currently on PrEP, only 2.9% rated their concern over stigma as “extreme” whereas 52.3% said “unconcerned.” 14.6 of those who are not currently taking PrEP but would like to said stigma played a role. 7.2% of those who were not interested in taking PrEP said lack of insurance coverage contributed to their disinterest.
Doctors’ Silence. Most respondents said they found out about PrEP from their friends. Only one in ten reported hearing about it from their doctor.
All of this information has helped us to craft a nuanced plan for 2016 as we increase the number of pro-bono PrEP-related in-app messages. For example, seeing that Latinos were so much less likely to be accessing PrEP, we will prioritize the circulation of PrEP information in Spanish. And seeing that many don’t know where to get it or are nervous to ask their usual doctor, we intend to undertake a mapping project of LGBTQ clinics in the country so more people will know what their options are. We already have efforts underway to measure PrEP access and attitudes in Puerto Rico as well as among trans and gender non-conforming Grindr users across the country.
This is only the beginning of our work. Grindr for Equality has always been all-in when it comes to the health of our community. Our very own founder and CEO, Joel Simkhai will be among those featured in a forthcoming CDC campaign designed to normalize HIV testing and motivate individuals to get tested.
At Grindr for Equality, the rights, well being, and advancement of our community are our focus. You are our tribe. Together we are changing the world.
We recently conducted an early Grindr election poll, turning up some super interesting results, including how LGBTQ voters reject simplistic “identity politics” and vote on much broader issues affecting them AND their fellow Americans. Oh, and they have preferences among the field of 2016 presidential candidates.
Based on the big picture generated by the survey numbers – Grindr users are highlyengaged in the electoral process, concerned about local and not just national issues, and motivated by “culture wars” involving gay and other rights issues are playing out through elections.
Profile of an LGBTQ Voter. Among the 1,718 Grindr users who responded, 76% say they vote in both general and presidential elections; 75% told us that, recognizing the influence local school boards have over things like allowing LGBTQ-inclusive books in schools, they feel moved to get even more involved in such local elections; and 64% indicated that the “culture wars” boost their intention to be active in the non-presidential elections.
It’s the Economy, Stupid. When asked to name the “biggest issue” facing America today, for Grindr voters like many others, it’s still “the economy, stupid” at 50%. Other leading issues were immigration (10.3%) and healthcare (9.8%). Our users also take a holistic view of rights issues – “minority rights” outpolled “LGBT rights” 9% to 3%.
After Marriage Equality, Then Comes… That said, LGBTQ matters still remain front and center on Grindr guys’ minds. Asked “After marriage equality, what’s next for the LGBTQ movement in the U.S.?” – 41% singled out “Pushing forward the Equality Act to end legal LGBTQ discrimination.” “Fighting HIV/AIDS” drew 15% of votes; then, “ensuring that states follow the law on marriage and adoption” was selected by 12.4% and after that “strengthening transgender rights” was the choice of 11.5%.
Young with a Point of View. What’s the profile of these electorally savvy Grindr users? They are young or young-ish – 56% told us they were either in the 20-29 or 30-39 age groups. As for political affiliation – more than half of our respondents identified as Democrats (51%); with 19% Independents and 15% Republicans.
Bernie Takes the Lead. And who are they thinking of voting for in the presidential contest? Well, among the Democrats, it’s a close race between the two front runners, with Bernie Sanders edging out Hillary Clinton 38% to 35%. The Donald was the man on top among Grindr Republicans – tapped by 21%. John Kasich and Jeb Bush came next, each with 7%. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina were both at the 5% level, with others in that crowded field trailing behind.
Overall, we’re proud to say that Grindr guys are electorally-aware and ready to have their voices heard come November 3rd. That’s why we’re so excited to partner with Rock the Vote this year for National Voter Registration Day. In recognition of the day, we’ll be urging all of our users across the nation to get registered. If you haven’t already, take a few moments to register so you’re ready come Election Day!
Your vote = your future!
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[Grindr’s 2015 Election Survey was distributed as an in-app poll to Grindr’s US user base over the weekend of September 12-13, with 1,718 users responding before the polls closed.]