30 November 2015

Location, location: how mobile dating apps are driving an increase in adolescent HIV

Nest (right) and friend Jesse look at gay dating apps on a smart phone
© UNICEF EAPRO/2015/Andy Brown
Nest is a 19-year-old gay teenager living in Bangkok. Like many other adolescents, he uses mobile apps such as Grindr to meet up for dates. “I use apps to meet other guys nearby,” he says. “I don’t like to have sex at the first meeting, I prefer to chat and get to know the person first. But some of my friends just meet up for sex.”

According to a new report, ‘Adolescents: Under the Radar in the Asia-Pacific AIDS Response’, the region is facing a ‘hidden epidemic’ of HIV among adolescents. Published by the Asia-Pacific Inter-Agency Task Team for Young Key Populations, including UNICEF, the report shows that although new HIV infections are falling overall, they are rising among at-risk adolescents. There are now at least 210,000 adolescents living with HIV in the region, with big cities like Bangkok and Hong Kong hubs of new infections.