Background/introduction Geosocial networking (GSN) apps such as Tinder and Grindr provide new ways of finding sex partners. It is suggested that usage could be responsible for increased STI & HIV transmission.
Aim(s)/objectives To systematically review published literature to determine whether geosocial app use is associated with increased sexual risk behaviours, current and/or previous STIs & HIV.
Methods Search of PubMed, EMBASE and Google Scholar for studies involving women, men, men who have sex with men (MSM) and use of GSN apps for sex-seeking which reported risk factors for STIs & HIV transmission, published from 2009 to March 2016, in English. Search terms were associated using at least one regarding GSN apps and a second regarding STIs or sexual risk behaviours. Quality was assessed using Critical Appraisal Skills Programme criteria.
Results 13 studies met inclusion criteria: 12 cross-sectional studies, 1 review. All were in MSM from urban USA, China, Taiwan, UK and Ireland. In total there were 11924 subjects (range 92–7184). 7 studies reported app use to be associated with increased unprotected anal intercourse (UAI); 2 studies showed no association. 3 studies showed association with previous STI diagnoses, although association with HIV diagnoses had mixed results. 4 studies reported high response rate for app-based recruitment.
Discussion/conclusion Use of GSN apps is associated with factors known to facilitate STI & HIV transmission in MSM. Studies in heterosexuals are much needed. High uptake of some app-recruited studies suggests GSN apps could be useful platforms for sexual health promotion and targeted risk reduction strategies.
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