Skip to main content

Home Life

New app Positive+1 offers ‘friendship and support’ for the HIV community

Exclusive: Attitude chats with the app's founder, who says it was created in tribute to an HIV+ friend

By Dale Fox

Composite of screen shot from Positive+1 app and its founder Christian Mercer
Christian Mercer is the founder of Positive+1 (Image: Positive+1)

To mark National HIV Testing Week, Attitude chats with Christian Mercer-Hall, founder of Positive+1, a new social media app for the HIV community.

A few years ago, Christian Mercer-Hall’s life took a sudden turn when a close friend and colleague received some life-changing news.

“He was the true life and soul of the party, then he just disappeared, went AWOL from work,” Christian, whose background is in sales, tells Attitude. “He eventually invited me to his house and the person at the front door was a shell of his former self. He’d lost a lot of weight; he’d lost that panache what made him who he was.”

Christian’s friend, aged 26, confided in him that he had recently been diagnosed with HIV. “The two key things that came out of that conversation were ‘How do I tell somebody’ and ‘How do I meet someone?’,” Christian explained.

“He was receiving support from a local charity and was on medication, but his initial thought was that he was going to die.”

After doing some research online on how he could help his friend connect with others in his situation, Christian found a group counselling session which the pair went to. However, he said traditional in-person HIV support groups were not conducive for vulnerable sharing between strangers, and there didn’t seem to be an online community that allowed this.

Positive+1 lets users “find friendship and support”

This was the “Eureka moment” that inspired him to create Positive+1, which initially launched as a dating app but evolved into a one-stop platform for the HIV community where users “can find friendship and support with like-minded people who share a similar story,” Christian says.

With a familiar social media app apperance, Positive+1 aims to offer a space for friendship, support, and understanding, providing a platform for connection beyond romantic interests.

Composite of screen shots from Positive+1 app
Positive+1 is a social media platform for the HIV community (Image: Positive+1)

The app contains a feed of users’ posts, messaging functionality, and a guidance section containing everything on “HIV basics” to dating and relationship advice, written by the app’s users themselves and curated by the Positive+1 team.

“They’re actually the viewpoints from people who are living with HIV and their lived experiences,” Christian explains. “If you can go into a platform and find content and guidance from people that you align with, you’re more likely to listen to it.”

More than just a support network

But Christian wants Positive+1 to be more than just a support network. The app partners with HIV charities, donating 10% of proceeds to organisations like Terrence Higgins Trust and National AIDS Trust. “Inside five years, if all goes to plan, we aim to donate upwards of $35 million,” Christian says.

The app has already seen promising engagement since launching in December 2023. Yet, Christian has faced hurdles along the way, including scepticism and funding difficulties in getting Positive+1 off the ground after 8 years in the making.

But for him, creating an inclusive digital space for the HIV community has made the challenges worthwhile. “I hope Positive+1 becomes synonymous with the HIV community,” he says.

The free Positive+1 app is available to download now on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.