A new "gay match-making" app has taken off in China, amassing a little over 2 million users in the least year according to Al Jazeera. Blued has already become more popular than Grindr, an app that is perhaps most prevalent in the United States. "I use Grindr, but people in China use it so little," said Clint Wang. Jack'd, a gay dating/hook-up app created in Belgium and popular in larger Chinese cities like Shanghai, is oft referred to by its "Chinese name jie ke di, which literally translates to a place where a sex worker finds his or her John." Still, Blued has outpaced Jack'd and Grindr, gaining preeminence in "China's second- and third-tier cities."
However, the release of the figures estimating Blued's popularity comes on the heels of China's government controlled news agency expressing concern that apps such as Blued will increase China's rate of HIV infection. However, the CEO of Blued, Geng Le, does not agree with the government's characterization of the risk:
[Le told Al Jazeera that he] feels his company is part of the solution, not the problem, to China's HIV/AIDS epidemic. "We have helped the government spread education to combat the HIV/AIDS information."
"If HIV/AIDS is an issue, it's because of bad sexual practices," like unprotected sex, and misinformation, Geng said, not apps themselves.
Tom Myers, spokesman and general counsel at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Washington, D.C., echoed Geng's opinion.
"It sounds funky to me,” he said. “I'd have to see what evidence the (Xinhua) report is relying on."
"What drives the epidemic in the U.S. and in most of the world is people who have HIV and don't know they have HIV," said Myers, adding that finding treatment allows people with HIV to become up to 96 percent non-infectious. "That's a better success rate than condoms."
Geng estimates that there are 13 million gay men in China and Blued hopes to reach 10 million smartphones across the country.