Hookup Apps Linked To Greater Risk of STI Infections

By: Les Fabian Brathwaite

Hookup apps like Grindr, SCRUFF and Jack'd have been linked to increased risk of STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia among men who have sex with men, according to a new study by the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

The study, published Thursday in the journal, Sexually Transmitted Infections, analyzes the STI results, sexual habits and recreational drug use of 7,184 men in the Los Angeles area. 34% of participants met their partners in-person; 30% met their partners through a combination of online and in-person networking; and 36% met their partners through a combination of in-person, online and hookup app networking.

Compared with men who met their partners online or in-person, hookup app users were 25% more likely to contract gonorrhea and 34% more likely to contract chlamydia. The risk of getting infected with syphilis or HIV, however, were the same for all groups.

According to the study, hookup app users tended to be either white or Asian, well-educated and under 40 years old, as well as more likely to use recreational drugs like cocaine and ecstasy. Though the apps make meeting sexual partners easier and more efficient, they also unintentionally create a pool of users at higher risk of contracting STIs.

Researchers, however, point out that the study may not accurately reflect men in other cities, nor men who do not get tested regularly for STIs. The study also does not establish a timeline between encounter and infection, so that using hookup apps didn't simply lead to contracting an STI. 

"Our ultimate goal is not to stigmatize these apps or stigmatize in general," Matt Beymer, lead researcher and epidemiologist at LA's LGBT center, told HuffPo. "We just really want gay and bisexual men to love carefully and love safely."

Tags: SEX, dating, Safe Sex