NEW YORK — Gay and bisexual men who use smart phone apps to meet other men for sex are at an increased risk of some sexually transmitted infections, suggests a new study reported on by Reuters and other news outlets.
Men who used the apps were more likely to be diagnosed with gonorrhea and Chlamydia than men who met potential partners in other ways, researchers report in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.
“We want to make people aware of the risks and benefits with any new technology,” researcher Matthew Beymer said. “We just want gay and bisexual men to love safely and love carefully.”
Beymer is the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Researchers compared rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among men who reported different types of networking, such as with apps, websites and in-person meetings.
They had data on 7,184 men who visited the clinic between August 2011 and January 2013.
About 34 percent of the men said they only met sexual partners through in-person methods, such as at bars or the gym. About 22 percent said they only connected with men over the Internet and 17 percent said they met men only through apps. The rest used a combination of methods, Reuters reports.
Men who used apps to meet other men were about 25 percent more likely to test positive for gonorrhea, compared with men who only met other men through in-person interactions. They were 42 percent more likely to be diagnosed with gonorrhea, compared to those who used in-person methods and the Internet, Reuters reports.
App users were also about 37 percent more likely than men who met other men in person to be diagnosed with Chlamydia.
There was no difference in the likelihood of app users being diagnosed with HIV or syphilis, compared to men who met partners through websites or in person, however. Beymer said it may be that there were not enough HIV and syphilis infections diagnosed during the study to detect a link to the apps, the Reuters article said.