A man dressed in a life-size version of your Grindr profile has been wandering around Provincetown, Mass. handing out test tubes of fake blood and semen.
Artist Tim McCarthy is engaged in a new interactive and awareness-focused project that seeks to elevate visibility among gay men about the growing prevalence of HIV among users of location-based hookup apps like Grindr. Both his project and Grindr handle are titled “R U The 1?” — contextualized with the tagline: “Are you the one I’ll spend a night with? The rest of my life with? Or the one who gives me HIV?”
According to a press release from McCarthy, “The concept is meant to be disturbing. We want to engage guys — especially young guys — in a conversation about HIV that seems to have lost momentum.”
At present, a conversation about HIV rates certainly seems to be a dire necessity. According to a study released by the Center for HIV Educational Studies & Training, 10 percent of Grindr users surveyed have never had an HIV test throughout the duration of their lifetime. Additionally, one-third of this ten percent still tell the men they’re connecting with that they’ve tested negative.
Perhaps the most shocking finding to stem from this study? Nearly one-third of the men who have never been tested also reported having anal sex without a condom in the past three months.
“The Internet and smartphones have changed gay culture and how we meet one another,” added McCarthy. “There’s no shame in meeting online for sex. But if guys knew about the prevalence of new HIV infections, they might do more to prevent its transmission.”
You can view the informational pamphlet distributed by McCarthy along with his polarizing test tubes here.
For more information on “R U The 1?” visit the project’s Facebook page.