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Smartphone Apps More Riskier Than Online Dating Sites or Clubs

Update Date: Jun 13, 2014 07:52 AM EDT

Phone dating apps used by gay men to find a sexual partner carry a higher risk of getting common sexually transmitted infections than meeting online or in bars and clubs, according to a recent study.

Prior, other researches suggested that gay and bi-curious men who meet online are more likely to indulge in unprotected sex. They also might have more partners than men meeting potential partners in other ways. 

However post 2009, smartphone apps like Grindr and Scruff have become more preferred way to hook up with potential sexual partners. These apps allow registered users to use their smartphone's GPS to locate and network with other users in vicinity. 

Researchers considered around 7000 men who were tested for sexually transmitted infections. 

A third (34%) met sexual partners in person only; a slightly smaller proportion (30%) used a combination of person to person or online dating; and a slightly larger proportion (36%) used only smartphone apps or these plus other methods, the study found. 

Researchers also noted that apps were more preferred by younger (under 40) well educated men and those of white or Asian ethnic backgrounds. Findings also revealed that apps users were more likely to use recreational drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy. 

According to the study, app users were 23 percent more likely to be infected with gonorrhoea and 35% more likely to be infected with chlamydia. 

"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," researchers wrote in the study.

"Technology is redefining sex on demand," researchers said. "Prevention programs must learn how to effectively exploit the same technology, and keep pace with changing contemporary risk factors for [sexually transmitted infections] and HIV transmission."

The study has been published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

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