Dating Apps Responsible for Rise of HIV Among Adolescents
Even though the world has witnessed a fall in the case of HIV infections, but in some parts of the world there has been a rise, especially amongst adolescents leading to the fear of "hidden epidemic". According to a recent Unicef Report, the epidemic is at an all time high between young gay and bisexual men. The reason that has been attributed to this trend is the rise in casual sex with multiple partners that is propelled by mobile dating apps. 19-year-old Nest lives in Bangkok, Thailand. He uses mobile apps such as Growlr and Grindr to find and then date the gay adolescent men. "I don't like to have sex at the first meeting, I prefer to chat and get to know the person first," he says. "But some of my friends just meet up for sex. If you go on Growlr, there will be around 50 guys available during the day, or 100 at night." Even though Nest is particular about safe sex practices, he doesn't follow the same ritual with his regular partners. He took him a while to sum up the courage to get his first HIV test. It was a relief to see that the test came up negative. "I was very tense. I read all about HIV on the internet and what would happen if I got a positive result. I've been safer since then."
Wing-Sie Cheng, Unicef regional advisor for HIV and Aids in Bangkok, says that there are many young men and women that are at risk due to dating apps. "It's not just one to one, it's one to many, so the risks of acquiring HIV go up." Although there is no evidence directly linking apps to HIV infection rates, their increasing prevalence means there is a "need to sound alarm bells", she adds. Adolescence is a time when the teenagers want to experiment with their sexuality and start to gain more freedom. Access to internet, social media popularity and smart phones has made it easier for people to connect and express themselves more openly, reports BBC News.