Tinder this week added a new feature that allows users to find STD testing sites in their area, resolving a dispute with a US sexual health advocacy group. A link to the STD testing locator is included under a new health safety section on Tinder's website, and is accessible under the dating app's FAQ page.
The move was welcomed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that became embroiled in a feud with Tinder over billboards that linked the dating app to the spread of STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia. The billboards were launched as part of an awareness campaign in New York and Los Angeles, and featured the slogan: "Tinder, Chlamydia, Grindr, Gonorrhea," referencing the popular dating app for gay men.
"We are unfortunately now waging an uphill battle on this front."
In September, Tinder sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding that the billboards be removed. On Thursday, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation said they will be taken down following the launch of Tinder's health safety section. In explaining the basis for the billboard campaign, the group cited a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which found a dramatic increase of STDs in the US. In 2014, cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis increased for the first time since 2006, the CDC said.
"We are unfortunately now waging an uphill battle on this front. The CDC also noted, the majority of these infections are affecting young people – the demographic that is on their mobile phones all day long," Whitney Engeran Cordova, senior director of public health at the foundation, said in a statement. "This is why it is such welcome news that Tinder will add a Health Safety section with a link to Healthvana, making it easier for people to find testing locations through an easily accessible, modern platform. And we hope to see other dating sites do the same."
"While the CDC, who conducted the largest and most credible study on the topic, has never identified any connection that supports the idea that Tinder usage correlates with, let alone causes, an increase in STDs, we’re of course in favor of organizations that provide public education resources on the topic, and we're happy to do our part in supporting these educational efforts," Tinder said in a statement to The Verge.
Tinder's health safety page includes basic advice on condoms and vaccinations, though as Newsweek notes, it's not very well marked. To access the page from the app, users must click on the FAQ section, which directs them to a mobile browser. From there, they have to scroll to the bottom for a link to the health safety page. That page contains a link to the Healthvana STD testing site locator, which identifies testing sites in the US, but does not include any links to sites like the CDC, where users could find far more detailed information on STD risk and prevention.
In a statement to The Verge, Tinder did not say whether it plans to expand the health safety page or increase its visibility. "Users are always able to get to tinder.com through the app," a spokesperson said.
This article has been updated to include a statement from Tinder.