Dating Apps Increase STI Risk Amongst Gay Men


Gay men who use location-based dating apps are more likely to contract certain sexually transmitted diseases, a new study has found.

The LA Gay & Lesbian Center collected data from 7,184 men who came for STI screenings between August 2011 and January 2013.

The study, published yesterday in the Sexually Transmitted Infections journal, found that those who used geosocial dating apps were more likely to contract STIs than people who met partners in person, or on social networking sites.

The men who used these hookup apps were 25% more likely to get infected with gonorrhea, and 37% more likely to catch chlamydia.

Those using such apps were, however, no more likely to contract HIV or syphilis than those who met partners on social sites or in person.

Of the 7,184 men they surveyed, the study found that 34% met sexual partners through in-person social networking exclusively.

30% met partners using the internet only or in combination with in-person social networking, and 36% met partners using a combination of geosocial apps, social networking and in person.

The study admits it has limitations, as it is only a snapshot of a certain STI centre in one city, but it wants to show that such apps can create a network of STI-infected people.

The lead researcher, Matthew Beymer, said:

“Technological advances which improve the efficiency of meeting anonymous sexual partners may have the unintended effect of creating networks of individuals where users may be more likely to have sexually transmissible infections than other, relatively less efficient social networking methods.”

He also wants the study to highlight that prevention and education measures should be further explored in future.

It points to a campaign by Mister and STI testing centre finder Hula, which lets users upload their results and share them with potential partners, as a good example of this.

In the study Beymer writes:

“Given that mobile technologies allow for a variety of functions beyond locating anonymous sexual partners, the feasibility and effectiveness of various culturally competent, electronic applications that emphasise wellness through testing promotion, prevention and education should be explored.”

Read the full study here.