John M. Becker

Study: Smartphone Dating Apps Increase Users' STI Risk

Filed By John M. Becker | June 12, 2014 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: chlamydia, gonorrhea, Grindr, scientific study, sexual risk, STDs, STIs, study

smartphone-dating-apps.jpgGay and bisexual men who use smartphone hookup apps like Grindr, Scruff, Jack'd, and Recon have a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea and chlamydia than those who don't, a new research study indicates.

The study, conducted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center and published today in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, builds on previous research suggesting that men who have sex with men (MSM) who meet potential partners online are more likely to engage in condomless sex and have more sexual partners than those who meet guys in bars and clubs. Researchers wanted to investigate whether location-based smartphone apps altered men's sexual behaviors.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center reports, via press release:

According to the authors, smartphone apps were favored by younger, well-educated men under the age of 40 and by men of white or Asian ethnic backgrounds. App users were also more likely to use recreational drugs, including cocaine and Ecstasy.

Their analysis further showed that men who used smartphone apps to meet other men for sex were more likely to have common STI than those who met their partners in clubs and bars. They were 25 percent more likely to be infected with gonorrhea and 37 percent more likely to be infected with chlamydia. However, there was no difference in their likelihood of infection with either HIV or syphilis.

The authors suggest that smartphone apps make it easier to meet potential partners more quickly than online or traditional methods; thereby, boosting the chances of anonymous and riskier encounters, and of contracting STI. Additionally, they point out their findings may not be applicable to gay/bisexual men in other areas or to those not attending a dedicated sexual health clinic.

"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," they write. "Technology is redefining sex on demand; prevention programs must learn how to effectively exploit the same technology, and keep pace with changing contemporary risk factors for STI and HIV transmission."

The data was collected from 7,184 HIV-negative MSM who were served by the Center's sexual health clinic between 2011 and 2013.

What do you think of this new study? Will it have any impact on your personal sexual choices? Sound off in the comments section.

Image via The Next Best Thing to Sex.

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