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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 2, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 40
Hookup apps feud with AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Section One
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Hookup apps feud with AIDS Healthcare Foundation

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Hookup apps Tinder and Grindr are locked in a legal feud with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) over AHF's new billboard ad campaign.

First appearing the week of September 21, AHF billboards feature silhouettes of two couples, one same-sex and one opposite sex. The same-sex one is marked with the words 'Grindr' and 'gonorrhea,' the other with 'Tinder' and 'chlamydia.'

Tinder's lawyers have already fired off a cease-and-desist letter to AHF, arguing that the advertising 'falsely' associates the app 'with the contraction of venereal diseases.'

Tinder attorney Jonathan D. Reichman, charges that the AHF's ' unprovoked and wholly unsubstantiated accusations are made to irreparably harm Tinder's reputation in an attempt to encourage others to take an HIV test offered by your organization.'

The lawyer goes on to say that the 'statements' are not based on science and would not withstand 'critical analysis.'

Tinder, which says it 'strongly supports [STD] testing,' accuses AHF of false advertising, disparagement, libel, and interference with its business.

The app demands that AHF take down its billboards.

AHF's chief counsel replied that the billboards would remain and that the group has not made 'any false or disparaging statements against Tinder.'

'Rather than trying to chill AHF's public health message by threatening AHF with frivolous lawsuits, AHF urges Tinder to support its message of sexual health awareness by encouraging Tinder users to get tested for STIs and to get treated promptly if they have an infection,' AHF attorney Laura Boudreau wrote.

Meanwhile Grindr has dropped all AHF ads from its site.

'We were surprised at the approach [AHF] took, and paused the [ad] campaign in order to speak with them and assess our relationship,' a Grindr spokesperson told the LA Times.

'At the end of the day, we are all on the same side in this issue, and strive to work with our partners and advocacy groups to achieve similar goals. A more connected and informed gay community is a better thing for us all.'

AHF says its campaign is justified and it will not back down.

'In many ways, location-based mobile dating apps are becoming a digital bathhouse for millennials wherein the next sexual encounter can literally just be a few feet away - as well as the next STD,' AHF public health division director Whitney Engeran-Cordova said in a statement.

'While these sexual encounters are often intentionally brief or even anonymous, sexually transmitted diseases can have lasting effects on an individual's personal health and can certainly create epidemics in communities at large.'

AHF President Michael Weinstein, in a weekend TV news interview, argued that apps like Tinder's are responsible for an uptick in STD reports. People who use Tinder, Grindr, or similar apps are more likely to have casual sex, engage in high-risk behaviors, and are more likely to test positive for gonorrhea and chlamydia, he said.

AHF provides HIV/AIDS healthcare for hundreds of thousands of patients in the U.S. and other countries, but some of its stands have been controversial. Weinstein, for example, is an outspoken critic of PrEP medication, calling it a 'party drug' that encourages irresponsible sexual behavior.

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WHO expands PrEP guidelines
Nine million added to group who should get treatment

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Two LGBT groups get funding

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Email surprise: Clinton feared political backlash over gender-neutral passports
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Hookup apps feud with AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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