According to a study, using smart-phone dating apps to find a sexual partner carry a higher risk of getting common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than meeting online or in bars and clubs.

Since 2009, smart-phone apps such as Grindr, Scruff and Recon have become an increasingly popular way to hook up with potential sexual partners. They allow registered users to use their smart-phone's GPS (global positioning system) to locate and network with other users in the vicinity.

In the new study, researchers wanted to find out if such use has altered behaviours and infection risk. They collected data on HIV negative gay and bi-curious men between 2011 and 2013. In all, 7,184 men were tested for sexually-transmitted infections. Nearly 36 percent used only smart-phone apps to find a sexual partner.  
They were 23 percent more likely to be infected with gonorrhea and 35 percent more likely to be infected with chlamydia, the study noted.

The smart-phone apps make it easier to meet potential partners more quickly than online or more traditional methods. "It boosts the chances of anonymous riskier encounters and getting a sexually transmitted infection," explained researchers in a paper published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Technology is redefining sex on demand. Prevention programmes must learn how to effectively exploit the same technology, and keep pace with changing contemporary risk factors for STDs and HIV transmission.

Grindr, which was one of the first such apps, had 2.5 million new users in 2012. In 2013, it had six million users in 192 countries worldwide.

(Agencies)

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