Feature story

Virtual communities power HIV services in China

21 June 2019

According to national estimates, an estimated 1.25 million people are living with HIV in China, with almost 400 000 unaware of their status. China’s epidemic is concentrated among key populations at higher risk of HIV, including men who have sex with men. That’s why it’s crucial to meet these communities where they socialize, including in virtual spaces such as gay dating applications.

Danlan Public Welfare is a nongovernmental organization that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. It is also behind the largest gay dating application in China, Blued, which today has more than 28 million users. It has incorporated community-driven HIV prevention messaging into the application and includes basic facts about the virus, as well as information on prevention, testing and treatment options and how and where to contact related services. Interactive quizzes test users’ knowledge about HIV.

As well as this powerful virtual tool, Danlan also operates free HIV rapid testing outreach projects in partnership with the Municipal Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. People can take a free HIV test and get their results in just 10 to 15 minutes.

As the Blued dating application becomes popular around the world, Danlan is extending its HIV prevention programme to Belt and Road Countries. Since March 2019, users in Indonesia have been able to access the “Blued Help Center". The service is provided in cooperation with a local civil society organization called "VictoryPlus”, which allows users to post their concerns regarding HIV-related issues and receive an immediate answer. Blued’s “We Care” programme also offers virtual information on HIV services close by.

In Thailand, Danlan worked together with a civil organization called "Impulse" to advocate for HIV prevention programmes and provided free rapid HIV testing services. Danlan has also cooperated with Mahidol University on HIV-related risk behaviour research.

In April 2019, the chief executive officer of Danlan, Geng Le, received an award for “Outstanding Innovative Model” by the Confederation of Trade Unions of Chaoyang, Beijing. It is estimated that community-based organizations like Danlan are responsible for finding 30% of all new HIV cases in the city.

“We are doing our best to use science and technology to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, including their health,” says Geng Le. “Our vision is that all young people should be able to live with dignity, be free of stigma and discrimination and love who they want to no matter where they come from, what their sexual orientation is and what their HIV status is.”

Blued is more than just a dating application now. It is also a virtual healthcare resource centre that provides support to the wellbeing of the LGBT community.


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