TV star Dr Christian condemns ‘joke’ HIV test apps and calls on app stores to ban them
Television star Dr Christian Jessen has condemned mobile apps which allow users to “prank” friends into thinking they are HIV positive.
The Embarrassing Bodies star, as well as HIV charities took aim at the apps, available on the Google Play store.
After ‘scanning’ the fingerprint, the apps then display a message such as: “1.4% HIV found, blood test needed”.
PinkNews revealed earlier today that one app, named the ‘HIV-AIDS Test prank’ has been downloaded between 10,000 and 50,000 times.
Speaking to PinkNews, Dr Christian said: “It’s not very often that something comes along of such an overwhelming magnitude of stupidity that words fail me utterly.
“These apps are beyond ignorant. Not only is there no such thing as an ‘AIDS test’ (AIDS also being an outdated term) but to think that such a serious condition that so many people, including myself, have worked so hard to raise awareness of, demystify and destigmatise could be thought a suitable subject for so tasteless and inappropriate a joke (and I use the term joke reluctantly) is astounding.
He went on: “I am horrified, and call on the Google Play Store to remove these immediately before serious harm is done, both to individuals, and to the progress made in improving life for those living with HIV.”
Both apps have a majority of five star ratings, the highest possible rating on Google Play.
Although it is not possible to get the exact number, the ‘HIV-AIDS Test prank’ has been downloaded between 10,000 and 50,000 times.
The apps have also been condemned by HIV charities such as the Terrence Higgins Trust.
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Speaking to PinkNews, Dr Shaun Griffin, Executive Director of External Affairs at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We are outraged and unreservedly condemn apps like these that undermine efforts by people living with HIV to normalise and destigmatise HIV. HIV, although now a long-term, manageable condition, is not a joke for people living with it.
“We’re shocked but unfortunately not surprised that these kind of disgraceful apps exist. Stigma is still too common an occurrence for people living with HIV and these apps are a step backwards. We are calling for these prank HIV apps to be immediately removed from all app stores.
“If anyone living with HIV has been personally affected by these apps and requires support, please contact our national helpline THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.”
Other apps, also available through the Google Play store, include ‘New AIDS Detector Prank’, and another app from the developers of ‘HIV-AIDS Test prank’ also allows users to ‘prank’ their friends into thinking they have lung cancer.
PinkNews has reached out to Google for comment.