Hookup Apps Found to Increase Likelihood of Sexually Transmitted Infections. 

Outward
Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
June 13 2014 5:42 PM

Study Suggests Grindr-Like Apps Increase Likelihood of Sexually Transmitted Infections

iphone5_cascade
The Grindr grid.

The gay news sites are nervously buzzing today at the results of a new study, just out from the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and UCLA, which finds that users of “hookup apps” like Grindr and Scruff are more likely than old-fashioned bar-trawlers to come home with sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea and chlamydia. Specifically, geo-social app users were 25 percent more likely than their bar hopping comrades to contract gonorrhea, and 37 percent more likely to have picked up chlamydia. Interestingly, HIV and syphilis infection rates did not significantly differ between the groups.

More details on the study can be found in an unpacking over at the Advocate or in the paper itself. But as this headline bounces around, it’s important to note the study’s limitations, which the authors clearly express but can sometimes get lost in media reports. For starters, the 7,184 men included in the analysis are all drawn from West Hollywood and Long Beach, California, noted gay enclaves in which one would expect STI transmission to exist at somewhat higher rates due to population density. Also, as the study authors note, “the data were obtained from an organization whose primary mission is to test and treat STIs, and there may be a substantial selection bias towards [men who have sex with men] with risky sexual experience because those experiences may have promoted initiation of screening services.” Furthermore, the study rightly acknowledges that use patterns for these apps may differ greatly in areas with populations and social mores distinct from urban gay centers.

Advertisement

While many are no doubt interpreting this study as a kind of scold against digitally assisted promiscuity, it’s worth noting that the authors are far more interested in using these apps as a means of promoting sexual health rather than in chastising anyone: “Given that mobile technologies allow for a variety of functions beyond locating anonymous sexual partners, the feasibility and effectiveness of various culturally competent, electronic applications that emphasize wellness through testing promotion, prevention and education should be explored.”

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate assistant editor. He writes and edits for Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section, and for the culture section.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 9:19 PM The Phone Call Is Twenty Minutes of Pitch-Perfect, Wrenching Cinema
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.