China’s dating application for gay men to expand HIV prevention among users
The man known as Geng Le, who launched Blued, the world’s largest gay dating smartphone application, was a respected police officer in China almost 20 years before he left the force in 2009 after fellow officers objected to working with him because of his sexual orientation.
Now Geng Le is the Chief Executive Officer of the Danlan gay men’s network, the non-profit organization behind Blued. During a meeting 6 May with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé in Beijing, China, Geng Le pledged to expand Danlan’s HIV prevention programme.
Blued has almost 15 million users, mostly in China, but its popularity is growing outside the country. As a service to its users, it provides information on the risks of unsafe sex and the rights of men who have sex with men. Users are asked questions aimed at increasing their knowledge of HIV treatment, prevention tools and care options. In addition, they are pointed to locations where they can access HIV testing and counselling.
Geng Le said, “We are doing our best to use science and technology to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, including their health. Our vision is that all young people can live in dignity, be free of stigma and discrimination and share love no matter where they come from, what they are doing, what their sexual orientation is and what their HIV status is.”
Mr Sidibé’s visit included a demonstration of the application and an online exchange with users.
Danlan runs a free HIV rapid testing outlet, which provides services to men who have sex with men in partnership with public health agencies. “Danlan is an example of an organization for the future. It protects the rights of people not reached by services, everywhere,” said Mr Sidibé.
Danlan has organized campaigns against discrimination and gives technical support on web-based HIV prevention and treatment initiatives. It is expanding into other countries and is currently establishing offices in the United States of America and Thailand.