PHILADELPHIA — Researchers in Pennsylvania are using Grindr to recruit gay and bi men into a clinical trial for an HIV vaccine, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week.
Using a bounty of online techniques — Facebook, e-mail, Craiglist and more — researchers found Grindr to be the most effective, the article said. The project is HVTN 505 at the University of Pennsylvania’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Research Division
Recruiters for HVTN 505 cherry-picked times with peak traffic and for a total of 22 days since the fall, ads worth $9,400 were blasted to all users within 30 miles of the Penn clinic, the Inquirer reported.
Two types of ads appeared on Grindr: a pop-up ad that covered the entire screen when the app was first opened, and a banner ad at the bottom of the screen that rotated out after 30 seconds.
Grindr directed 18,000 visits to the trial’s website. More than 300 of those people who tapped the “See More” option registered online. After screening questions over the phone, 16 Grindr users ended up in Penn’s study of nearly 200 people — the highest enrollment rate of all social media used, the Inquirer article said.
In April, the National Institutes of Health discontinued HVTN 505 because preliminary data indicated the vaccine didn’t prevent HIV infection or reduce viral load. But that didn’t deter participants. Many who participated asked where they might sign up for another vaccine trial. Two trials at Penn are recruiting participants for other HIV vaccines; six more trials have completed enrollment. None has used Grindr, but the app is being employed in a trial testing the pill Truvada, which has shown promise in preventing HIV when taken daily, the Inquirer reported.