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Hula hopes to make hookup apps more responsible -- and the STD talk a little more fun

Caitlin McGarry | Nov. 5, 2013
You can swipe to the right to pick a partner on one app and unzip their STD results on another. Welcome to dating in the 21st century.

Bastani says that Hula has a medical adviser who makes sure things are on the up-and-up, and that Hula staff are well trained to interpret the results. He also notes that wrangling information from a health-care provider can often be frustrating—which is why Hula steps in to assist.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20 million Americans contract an STD every year. Though Bastani doesn't consider Hula to be a health app, a partnership with Mister to encourage gay men to get tested for HIV and an education initiative with the Los Angeles Unified School District to teach 13- to 17-year-olds about STD testing prove that Hula isn't just a complement for hookup apps. It could be the rare app that makes a difference.

"A lot of dating and interactions are happening on mobile and on these apps," says Mister founder Carl Sandler, who partnered with Hula because "public health in general is very slow to embrace mobile apps" as a way to spread information.

Mister will point users to Hula when they launch the app, so they can find testing facilities nearby.

"I want to be a role model for other apps to start saying, 'We have an ethical responsibility to make health-related information a part of the experience,'" Sandler says. "That includes testing and information and access to resources. I get very upset when other sites pretend they're eHarmony. We know what people are doing on them."


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