New App For Sugar Babies Is Promoting Stigma

· Updated on June 20, 2018

A new app is raising eyebrows for its stance on HIV.

Earlier this month, Queerty featured DaddyBear, an app that connects older gay men (daddies) with burly queer men (bears). Seems pretty straightforward, right? Not so much. On the app’s About page, which said that many of the app’s mature clientele “grew up under the macro environment of AIDS epidemic and scare, so they know how to protect themselves and you, and enjoy safe sex with you.”

In a comment under the article, a representative from the company wrote:

“If you are worried about meeting gay men who are living with HIV, then you can feel relieved with our App because we are trying our best to make sure that all users you meet will be healthy and without HIV.”

In an email interview with INTO, the CEO of Daddybear, who went only by Justin, doubled down on this stance.

“No one would like to date people living with HIV unless he is living with it,” the CEO said in an email. “Most gay sugar daddies are not living with HIV, so they don’t want to bring home any unwanted souvenirs. However, we support that gay men living with HIV have the right to date with other gays with HIV. But many rich and successful gay sugar daddies do not want to date with gay men living with HIV, which is the reason why we launched this app to meet their needs.”

Someone also clocked the apps’ serophobic attitudes on DaddyBear’s iTunes reviews.

Underneath the Queerty article, several commenters said the app promotes discrimination and serophobia.

Justin, the CEO, said that the app is planning on having a feature where people can identify as living with herpes, HIV or other STIs when they make their account.

Ironically enough, the representative said, DaddyBear doesn’t believe should discriminate against HIV-positive men.

“We should face a fact that gay men are much more likely to get HIV through unprotected sex than average straight guy,” DaddyBear said. DaddyBear also said that other apps that don’t share a person’s HIV status are “very dangerous.”

However, as many in the HIV/AIDS community know, living with an undetectable viral load makes it extremely difficult to transmit HIV from one person to the next. The PARTNER study, which enrolled 1166 mixed-status couples who often don’t use condoms during sex, found that no partner of undetectable HIV-positive person acquired the virus during years of unprotected sexual activity.

Increasingly, community activists and AIDS service organizations have been trying to communicate to the general public that “undetectable equals uninfectious.” And studies have shown that, if an HIV-positive person has access to quality health care and medication, they can expect to have a near-average life span.

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