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Grindr recently admitted to sharing the HIV status of its users with third-party services. This move has major implications for the safety and wellbeing of those that disclosed on the app. Grindr has since said it will stop sharing this information. However, this breach of privacy raises the risks that come with sharing personal information online and the real issues surrounding disclosing your HIV status. It important to be aware of how the information you share will be used so you can make informed choices about what you post online.

Privacy on the Internet

In Australia, there are privacy laws around collecting and storing customers’ personal information. Non-Australian services are not bound to Australian privacy laws so it is important you are aware of how your information is used and how to protect your data.

Tips to remember

  • Before you post any information online, read the site’s privacy policy and understand what information is collected and what, if any, data ‘third-party’ businesses will have access to.
  • Limit the amount of personal information you provide online and only share what is necessary.
  • Check your privacy settings regularly as they often change.
  • Always assume anything you post online can be found and ask yourself, ‘Am I ok with this information becoming public knowledge?’

Disclosing your HIV status

Disclosing your HIV status is a personal decision that only you can make when you are ready. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to disclosing your HIV status. It is important to understand why you want to disclose and what you expect in return. Disclosing your status should never be dictated by fear, but know that disclosure can be empowering.

Tips for disclosing to dating and sexual partners

  • Learn as much you can about HIV so you can be prepared to answer any questions the person might have.
  • Keep what you say as simple and direct as possible.
  • Give the person you are disclosing your status to some time to process the information.

There may be times when it is in your best interests to disclose your status even if you are not legally required to do so. There are Victorian laws that require people with HIV to take ‘reasonable steps or precautions’ to avoid placing others at risk of contracting HIV. Some ‘reasonable steps or precautions’ can include using condoms, a person living with HIV adhering to treatment and maintaining an undetectable viral load, or the HIV negative partner using PrEP.

For more information read the Sexual transmission of HIV and the law: an Australian medical consensus statement.