Game Changers in the HIV Response: Gay Dating App Efforts to End the Epidemic by 2030

Hornet joins the International Aids Conference #Aids2016 to discuss the work mobile technology can play in combatting HIV.  

New information and communication technologies (ICT) are fast becoming an important source for enhancing the reach and effectiveness of HIV programmes among men who have sex with men (MSM). Dating application platforms are increasingly used to convey facts on prevention and promote access to services and some have also undertaken their own awareness campaigns to ensure the health and safety of their users. This session presents findings of a systematic review of evidence on the impact of such programmes on behaviours and service uptake, and provides a platform for discussions around utilizing dating apps as a tool for combination prevention. The session is targeted to policy makers, researchers and community representatives interested in the topic. At the completion of the session, participants will understand the emerging evidence around the use of ICT to reach MSM populations and will be able to identify good practices in health promotion through dating applications.

Hornet founder Sean Howell said, "Social Networks exist for their users and as a gay company, we will continue to invest in ways to amplify, as well as alter, HIV prevention and treatment efforts to better meet the needs of all gay men.”

Co-Chair: Karl Dehne, Switzerland, UNAIDS
Co-Chair: Patrick Sullivan, United States,

WEBS02 Game Changers in the HIV Response: Gay Dating App Efforts to End the Epidemic by 2030

 Time:Session Room 2
Wednesday 20 July, 14:30 – 16:00 Sean Howell, will present the work that Hornet does to leverage its sophisticated geo specific technology to empower users around HIV education, as well as intervention and treatment strategies.  Hornet partners with supranational organizations like WHO, ECDC, UNAIDS, as well as local organizations in Thailand, Ukraine, Brazil, Philippines and many others to connect users with services. In 2016 they launched a global campaign, Blue Ribbon Boys with MSMGF to facilitate Peer to Peer advocacy.

Gay Men attending the conference who have never used Hornet before are invited to try and receive free premium

Learn about Hornet hiring senior health innovation strategist Alex Garner. 

Evidence Brief on European PrEP Usage

Hornet European PrEP Study InfoGraphic


Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is the use of an antiretroviral medication to prevent the acquisition of HIV infection by people who are uninfected. In April 2016, the European Centre for Diseases Prevention and Control (ECDC) held a meeting to discuss considerations for PrEP implementation in Europe. In preparation for this meeting, ECDC and the Hornet Gay Social Network collaborated on a rapid survey about PrEP use among men who have sex with men (MSM). The objective of this survey was to examine PrEP use among MSM, including access, health care engagement and likelihood of future use.        

A shareable PDF version of this report with figures.

During the three days the survey was rolled out to Hornet users in Europe (23-25 April, 2016) a total of 8 543 people responded. Figure 1 shows the country breakdown of the survey respondents 

Hornet Gay PrEP Europe Survey ECDC

Survey results

 Eleven percent of survey participants reported being HIV positive (Figure 2). However, only 51% of survey participants responded to this question, which might indicate a reluctance to disclosure HIV status within these kinds of online social and sexual networking environments. 

Gay Men Percent HIV positive Europe

Among respondents (n=8048) who did not report being HIV positive, 10% (n=793) said that they were currently taking PrEP (Figure 3). Of those on PrEP, 69% said their sexual health provider was aware that they were taking PrEP. 

Are you currently taking prep ECDC Hornet Gay Survey

Where those respondents obtained Prep differed. The majority of respondents from France indicated that they had acquired PrEP through their physician/doctor. France is currently the only country in Europe where PrEP can be prescribed and where it is reimbursed under the health insurance scheme. For those currently on PrEP outside of France, the primary source of obtaining PrEP was through purchase via the Internet, followed by receipt via a physician/ doctor or through a research study (see Figure 4). 

Where do gay men obtain PrEP

In terms of when respondents reported that they had had their last sexual health check, people on PrEP and those identified as being HIV positive reported having more recent sexual health checks than those who were HIV negative (figure 5). Respondents reported more recent sexual health checks if they acquired PrEP from a clinician or through a study (94% had a sexual health check during the past six months compared to 77% if they acquired PrEP through other sources).

When did you last have a health check up gay men

In terms of understanding intentions to use PrEP in the community, approximately one in four of those not currently on PrEP agreed with the statement that they were likely to us PrEP in the next six months, whereas this rose to eight out of ten among those currently on PrEP (Figure 6). 

Percent of gay men likely to use PrEP


The results from this survey show that the use of PrEP in the community is common (10%). When taking into account those who intend to use PrEP in the next six months, it becomes clear that the demand for PrEP among the sub-group of MSM responding to this survey is high. The high proportion of informal use of PrEP poses challenges for health systems. Specific concerns about online delivery of PrEP include how to promote adherence and provide follow-up care, as well as how to ensure that people are purchasing genuine drugs and reduce the risks associated with stock outs of drugs. It will be important to engage with community, peer and online initiatives to ensure that they promote consistent information and messages about PrEP.

About Hornet Gay Social Network: Hornet is the most international gay social network available in 26 languages with offices in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.  Founded in 2011 with the mission to provide the best quality product, it has grown to 15 Million total and 3 Million monthly active users. Hornet is number one in key markets such as France, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, and Taiwan.  To contact Hornet about HIV research and leveraging its social platform for health intervention reach out to Health Innovation Strategist Alex Garner and visit

Additional work on social networks and PrEP:

Hornet Acquires Vespa To Become #1 Gay App

San Francisco, July 5, 2016 -- Hornet - the world’s second largest gay social network - today announced that it has acquired Vespa, the leading gay city guide, to provide the most innovative set of apps to the 250 Million strong consumer segment of gay men worldwide.  Vespa’s founder and CEO Christof Wittig, who co-founded Hornet in 2011, has been appointed the new CEO, while co-founder Sean Howell is now Chairman and President of Hornet. 

With 15 Million total and 3 Million monthly active users, Hornet is the second largest gay social network worldwide after Grindr, which was acquired by Chinese Kunlun for US$ 155 Million earlier in 2016.  Founded in 2011, Hornet has been leading in product quality and innovation, garnering top ratings in the app store and already becoming number one in key markets such as France, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, and Taiwan.


With the acquisition of Vespa, Hornet will be able to extend its innovation lead by integrating gay places and events in 300 cities in 70 countries worldwide into its products. Together with its online magazine Unicorn Booty the gay app experience provided by Hornet now goes well beyond dating by facilitating an accessible, fun, and safe community for gay men all around the globe.

“I am excited to announce the fulltime engagement of my co-founder Christof at Hornet,” said Sean Howell, current CEO and future President. Howell will devote his time to supporting Wittig and remain active in day to day.  “This is the perfect time for Christof Wittig to become Hornet’s next Chief Executive Officer. Christof is an accomplished serial entrepreneur and founding CEO of multiple tech companies, which have grown to scale and successful exits. He will move the company forward with the speed required to capitalize on the opportunities in front of us to become the #1 gay app and scale our business in the US and worldwide.”

Before Hornet and Vespa, Wittig has started and run LiquidM, a mobile DSP delivered as SaaS; Servo Software, a mobile middleware platform for Android; and APSIS Software, a cost management software for the real estate industry. Over the past years, he has also been an active investor and/or board member in mobile apps, adtech, and analytics, incl. KeepSafe, Metago, Virta Health, AppAnnie, Boxfish, and Moviepilot.

“Investors have started to look favorably at vertical social networks and especially the gay marketplace. The increased acceptance of LGBT lifestyle and a better understanding for the purchasing power of the Pink Dollar have shone the spotlight on services like Hornet’s which has one of the highest engagement rates in the industry,” says Wittig.  “An app with over 25 Million messages a day is not often heard of.  This has convinced me to join Hornet full time as their CEO and help to drive growth.”



About Hornet Networks

Hornet is the world’s second largest gay social network.  Founded in 2011 with the mission to provide the best quality product, it has grown to 15 Million total and 3 Million monthly active users. Hornet is number one in key markets such as France, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, and Taiwan, and is consistently expanding its sizable userbase in the US.


About Vespa Networks

Vespa is the gay city guide for the Millennial generation.  Based on an extensive and carefully curated database of places and events in 300 cities in 70 countries, it provides a unique help to find what’s hidden in a city - at home or while traveling abroad.


National HIV Testing Day

It’s National HIV Testing Day it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about why knowing your status is such an important part of gay men’s health. Knowing your status means you have useful information about your health that you can take action on.

Hornet is happy to provide you with options for finding a testing locations, gaining more information about PrEP, and engaging other users about your status. In your Favorites section you will find a profile for When you send this profile a chat message it will help you find places nearby where you can go get an HIV test. It’s quick, it’s easy, and there may be multiple options nearby.

Testing can be a scary or nerve wracking experience. We understand that. One of the universal experiences of gay men is getting an HIV test. My last test was 20 years ago and I was worried and anxious because I thought it would come back positive. And it did. But I quickly learned that I could find support from friends, family, my community, and even online.

The most important things to realize after a positive result is that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, you can still have sex, and you can live a long, healthy life. Treatment options are available, even to those without insurance, and an undetectable viral loads means good health and that it’s virtually impossible to transmit HIV.

If you are negative you have options for preventing HIV. One of the newest options is PrEP: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, which is when someone who is HIV-negative takes a daily pill to prevent HIV. More information about PrEP can be found through the profile in your Favorites. Just send the word ‘info.” PrEP allows for great control and empowerment around your sexual health.

If you haven’t used the Know Your Status (KYS) feature in Hornet, now is the time to discover KYS. When you edit your profile you can choose to share your HIV status and you can set a testing reminder. This feature allows you to share more information with others and is also a convenient way to remember to get tested.

HIV testing day is not just about getting individuals tested. It’s about creating a world in which people are not negatively impacted by their test results. 

Whatever your HIV status you are a part of the Hornet community and we celebrate you, your health, and your sexuality. We strive to create a space free of judgment and stigma and where you can happily be who you are. Be yourself. Know yourself.

  Know your status. 

Orlando Need for Blood Donations

Our hearts go out to our lost brothers in Orlando, their families, including their gay boyfriends, friends and lovers.  However, we've sent a message to all of our users in Florida to donate blood if they're able and to ask their friends.


Right now, and following the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse, an LGBT nightclub, there is an official call for blood donations and urgent need to help the dozens of injured victims. For many of us gay and bisexual men, however, we remain legally barred from donating blood.

Under new FDA rules, a small minority of gay men who have been celibate for one year  are able to donate. 

While this fact may anger some and prevent many from donating, we want to focus on the urgent need that we must fill.  Please help those who can donate today do it. We've added to the discussion below on the legal barrier and will bring that fight up again in the weeks to come.

Donate Blood HERE

More on the donating blood issue:

Celebacy is a strong bar for any human being, gay or straight.  The bar includes monogamous long-term couples.   This bar is not equal.  Straight men and women who may have multiple anonymous lovers can donate at any time.  Therefore, the rules is really just a new way of banning gay men.  It is an illogical approach and not supported by science.  Globally this leaves the USA in the stone age as other countries removed such limitations.

The FDA has had a sour relationship with gay men stretching all the way back before the original HIV Crisis in 1983.  These new rules are again an issue of homophobia and not science.  is 

We will not condemn ourselves to do nothing.  Those who can donate will donate, those who can't will ask their friends, parents, and strangers.  

Our hearts hang low today but our chest beats and will honor our lost and we will go on loving.  #LoveWin

Other ways to help victims and the community click here. Names Hornet as One of the Best

DatingAdvice features the best places to meet LGBT online.  Online communities whether for dating or social help gays connect.  Hornet was singled out for the positive ratings from users and our tech innovation.

We're looking forward to more tech innovation on our side and making the list again next year!

If you're happy with our app, please write a nice comment in the app store and let the greater community hear why you like it better.


Introducing Hashtags! Find Profiles Faster through Better Searches

In the latest update, Hornet lets users cache profiles with hashtags for better, customizable searches.

Think back to when you first signed up for Hornet. Maybe you were an online dating pro, with folders of apps and spotless selfies ready to send. Maybe you were totally new to the scene, unsure if online dating was for you, anxious to download the app and meet someone special. No matter how your story with us began, we at Hornet want to give you more tools to keep telling that story—to find the right community for your passions, your pleasures and your interests.

 What's Your Hashtag?

What's Your Hashtag?

That’s why our latest update has a new yet familiar feature—hashtags. You can now categorize your profile with the hashtag symbol and a keyword, just like Twitter and Facebook. Now, Hornet Search can pull up your profile more easily through an endless variety of search terms, bringing you one step closer to Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now. Whether you’re #looking or just need a few #friends for karaoke night, Hornet’s hashtags introduce you more quickly to men who want just what you want. 

No guy fits neatly into just a few categories, like “geek” or “twink.” Some of us are still #questioning. Some of us have been out for a while and are looking for the perfectly snug #littlespoon. Gay men are so much more than sexual orientation. Our diverse interests make us a vibrant community of fans, professionals and amateur hobbyists. Love #baking? Find someone to make a sweet confection for two. Can’t stop binging #JessicaJones? Cozy up for some Netflix and chill. Planning a #hiking trip this weekend? Take to the outdoors with a friend. Hornet celebrates your interests, and we’re making it easier than ever to share what makes you unique with someone special.

Hornet wants to put the power to find what’s right for you in your hands. These hashtags go deeper than regular profile filters and open up incredible new possibilities for our community of 7 million men strong. Our mission is still to give every single user a chance to find his community. 

Start hashtagging today and see who you discover in your area! Share with us your favorite hashtags here on the app or on Twitter at @HornetApp.

Introducing Hornet for Web (Beta)

Today, we're very excited to announce the launch of a product we’ve been wanting to build for quite some time now. Since our launch, we’ve focused on building out quality apps to connect you to guys around you. However, we kept on hearing from guys that they'd love to use Hornet from their desktop as well, and we tend to agree, some things are just better on the big screen. So, to make Hornet more accessible to our fast growing community, we're launching Hornet for Web!

Using Hornet for Web makes it more convenient to get to your conversations and browse guys around you from the comfort of your computer. While we were working on Hornet for Web, we certainly learnt to appreciate the luxury of having a full keyboard at our disposal :)

So without further ado, you can visit and try it for yourself! 

Supported languages: Czech, Danish, English, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese Traditional.

More languages are rolling out over the coming days and weeks. You can help speed up translation of Hornet into your language at

Current Limitations:

  • Hornet for Web is currently best used on your desktop browser, on mobile we offer the best experience on our Android and iOS apps. 

While Hornet for Web is currently only available to existing Hornet app users, web registration for guys without the iOS or Android app will be opened up soon. 

Give it a try and let us know what you think on Twitter, Facebook, the Hornet Community and through the feedback links on Hornet for Web.