Blued Geng Le：Internet Based HIV Prevention and Control is the Future
Via：Yahoo! Finance 2019-11-02
“The Internet and the youth are of vital importance in HIV prevention and control in the future, and what China has achieved in this field is worthy of the world’s reference.” Said Mr. Eamonn Murphy, the head of UNAIDS Asia Pacific, giving praises to Chinese social organizations for their contribution and innovative achievements in HIV prevention and control in the office of United Nations Asia Pacific in Bangkok.
Recently, Danlan Public Interest, the public interest arm of BlueCity dedicated to improving the quality of life of gay men in China through technology, was invited to visit the office of UNAIDS Asia Pacific. Along with several other influential HIV prevention organizations in the region such as the Rainbow Sky Alliance and the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM), they discussed how to empower community organizations through technology to promote testing, improve the accessibility preventative measures, and bring educational information and anti-discrimination advocacy to the new generation.
Geng Le, the CEO and founder of BlueCity, shared their model at the meeting. He said, “After more than ten years of developing our practices, Danlan Public Interest has gradually come up with a successful model for Internet-based HIV prevention and control. Today, with Blued becoming an international brand, we are ready to expand our health education services by taking advantage of our globalized products. As a non-profit with a global perspective, we are capable of not only sharing our experience with the world, but learning from the experience of serving the world as well. This integration is crucial to the future of HIV prevention.”
UNAIDS：The Internet is of Vital Importance in Global HIV Prevention and Control in the Future
“The Internet and the youth are of vital importance in HIV prevention and control in the future, and what China has achieved in this field is worthy of the world’s reference.” Said Mr. Eamonn Murphy, the head of UNAIDS Asia Pacific
“We can see the Internet is the trend of the future, which young people are interested in.” said Rapeepun Jommaroeng, the head of Rainbow Sky Alliance. As the biggest and one of the earliest gay community-based organizations in Thailand, Rainbow Sky Alliance covers the largest part of the “battlefield” fighting against HIV offline in the Asia Pacific region. However, Mr. Jommaroeng admits that due to the lack of internet resources, it is difficult to reach the online population and expand their influence in the local LGBT community.
During the meeting, organizations from various countries demonstrated their respective advantages. Rainbow Sky Alliance and APCOM both shared their work of the past few years. Danlan Public Interest showcased its ability to reach a wide scale of the men who have sex with men (MSM) population through Blued, a leading live streaming and health education mobile application targeting gay men, which has successfully improved HIV testing and prevention education within the community.
APCOM has a strong social media reach to promote HIV prevention. They covers 38 countries and regions around the world. Its senior manager, Inad Quinones Rendon said, “By posting this service information online, it allows more people to have access and directs them to the right organizations for the services they need.”
Danlan Public Interest shared the results of it’s studies on Internet-based HIV prevention and control methods. By delivering information about HIV prevention and testing promotion through mobile apps, it lowers the psychological barriers for users. With mobile phones, it not only makes all the information and testing appointments a few clicks away, but it also improves the efficiency of medical staff and provides a platform for scientific research.
Blued is a product of BlueCity. ” Blued initially proposed a model of using mobile technology and social media to publicize HIV prevention.” Geng Le introduced Blued’s “online HIV testing appointment system”，which has connected over 200 HIV testing sites in China. Now users can locate the nearest testing site and make an appointment for safe and free testing and consultation. They can also browse and find quality professional health information at any time.”
Blued launched its “online HIV testing appointment system”，users can locate the nearest testing site and make an appointment.
Non-profit organizations have all recognized the influence of Danlan Public Interest in the Asia-Pacific region and indicated that they would join forces with BlueCity to promote online HIV prevention and related services.
Geng Le and Mr. Eamonn Murphy, the head of UNAIDS Asia Pacific
“The Internet and today’s young generation are vitally important to the future of HIV prevention, and what China has achieved in this field is worthy of the world’s reference.” said Mr. Eamonn Murphy, the head of UNAIDS Asia Pacific, praising Danlan Public Interest for the HIV prevention model it had introduced in China.
He said that if we want to reach people living with HIV (PLHIV) as early as possible, community organizations and the Internet are two critical forces. Mobile applications, such as Blued will play a key role in the future of HIV prevention, because they can reach a broader range of the younger generation.
BlueCity is committed to making the most of the technical advantages of its online platform, empowering other non-profit organizations from all over the world, and helping them carry out their HIV prevention work more effectively. At the same time, Danlan Public Interest will collaborate with partners from all over the world to find better methods of applying existing technologies to meet local needs and offer more tailored and innovative services.
A Chinese Organization with a Global Perspective
The development of public interest digital technologies is borderless. It is gratifying to see that the model created in China has been widely adopted and recognized by other countries and regions,” said Geng. “China’s non-profit organizations should have a global perspective. With the worldwide reach of Blued, we are ready to expand our services thanks to our international product.
In 2014, Blued launched its globalization strategy. “It’s our technology that’s strengthening the global user base,” says Geng.
As a popular platform which reaches a younger demographic around the world, BlueCity is proud of its cross-regional advantage. Under the “One Belt One Road” initiative, BlueCity has helped neighboring governments and HIV prevention organizations with publicity, intervention, and scientific research among young people using the Internet.
Resources showed that Danlan Public Interest has been continuously working with local government and health institutions in countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia in promoting HIV testing.
BlueCity has also presented at many international conferences such as the UN High-Level Conference and the World AIDS Conference to share the experience of Chinese Internet-based HIV prevention with the world.
Their example has not only been praised by respective international organizations, but also recognized by top researchers. At the 10th World AIDS Science Conference in Mexico, Ingrid Bassett, professor at the AIDS Research Center of Harvard University and recipient of the Global Health Service Excellence Research Award, recognized BlueCity’s innovative solutions in promoting HIV testing among the MSM population.
She said that BlueCity has significantly increased the amount of HIV testing among the MSM population in some parts of China, and emphasized that projects initiated by BlueCity have been adapted by other countries to reach different populations.
“In this lane, we see ourselves as pioneer, and have accumulated some valuable or let’s say advanced practical experiences that can be widely shared and promoted internationally. We will also join forces with organizations around the world to create a healthier and better community.” Geng believes that, an international non-profit organization should be capable of not only bringing local experience to the world, but also bringing innovative experience home. The integrated innovation of global solutions is crucial to the world’s HIV prevention and control business.
Internet Technology, the Key to User-Oriented HIV Prevention
The first step of HIV prevention is detection. No solution can be applied if the virus has not been detected. According to the latest data from the National Health Commission of China, about 30% of people living with HIV, approximately 400,000, are undiagnosed.
Today, as the diagnosis and treatment of AIDS are well established, the focus of HIV prevention has shifted to encouraging high-risk individuals to get checked regularly, to promote early detection and treatment. The Internet has become the best way to promote active HIV testing.
In 2004, only 48,000 of the 19.7 million tested in China were positive for HIV. In 2018, nearly 150,000 tested HIV-positive out of 240 million. Although the number of HIV-positive results has tripled, the number of people tested was 12 times greater.
“As increasing number of people get tested, some former infected population would be diagnosed which means the number HIV positive results will rise as well,” said Wu Zunyou, Chief of epidemiology at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “However, we have to notice that years of efforts in HIV prevention paid off, slowing the growth rate of HIV-positive individuals within the population.”
In Danlan Public Interest testing site, people could get tested in a soothing environment.
He pointed out that the HIV At-Home Self-Test kit, which you can purchase online, is making it more accessible for people who want to get tested. “The Internet plays a crucial part in promoting self-testing,” Wu says.
In the past, HIV positive individuals were found through medical institutions, with a relatively low discovery rate. “We have tested more than 80,000 MSM and the positive rate is only 2%-3%,” said Lu Hongyan of the Beijing Disease Control Center. “However, since online testing is anonymous it is more private and therefore more acceptable to those in the MSM community who would not otherwise get tested. Online testing allows us to reach these individuals”
“Our testing services are more comfortable for people since they don’t have to worry about discrimination. Because of stigma surrounding HIV, people tend to be hesitant to use public health services.” says Chen Zihuang, head of Danlan Public Interest. “Blued reaches millions of users around the world. They can make a testing appointment online using their location to find the nearest testing site. The Internet has made HIV prevention much more comfortable for people.”
Public Interest needs to be innovative and sustainable.
Public Interest should be proactive, not reactionary.
The fight against HIV is a global issue that affects everyone’s wellbeing and internet technologies are a potent weapon in this fight.
“The improvement of public health relies on two factors, sustainability and innovation. Danlan Public Interest’s commitment to public health will never change and will use technology to fulfill our social obligation to the world. That has been our vision and mission since day one.” said Geng.
In 2018, Danlan Public Interest raised funds for women of childbearing age, mothers living with HIV and their infants in the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. Providing compliance education, scientific guidelines, hospitalization assistance, and other treatments to this underserved population in an effort to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Same year, Danlan Public Interest collaborated with China CDC to create a risk assessment tool for individuals to determine their likelihood of infection. Based on the results of their self-assessment, an individual can then decide whether to seek out testing.
Danlan Public Interest has been continuously working with local government and health institutions in countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia in promoting HIV testing.
Through these projects and countless others, Danlan Public Interest has been at the forefront of the global fight against HIV, driving technological advancements through innovation. Geng believes that the possibilities of technology are endless. Making information accessible to all, promoting testing, and providing care for PLHIV are essential services. In the future, AI learning and big data analysis will provide even greater reach and insight allowing for new advancements.
“To contribute significantly to the public good is not only the mission of Danlan Public Interest’ but also my own. HIV prevention education, testing, consultation, anti-discrimination advocacy, and caring for PLHIV have been the core focus of Danlan Public Interest, as well as Blued, since their establishment.” Geng believes that with the growth of the company, they bear more social responsibility and will continue to work with the government to improve public health and services. “The public good is borderless; Chinese NGOs should actively participate in international public interest as well as China’s. We hope that in the near future, China will have a larger group of international non-profit organizations with credibility, achievements, and significant influence, playing key roles in the business of international public health and wellbeing.”