Background Geosocial networking applications (GSN apps) used for meeting sexual partners have become increasingly popular with men who have sex with men (MSM) since 2009. The current study aimed to determine if self-identified HIV-negative, MSM clinic attendees who used GSN apps have an increased incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STI) compared to self-identified HIV-negative, MSM attendees who met sexual partners via in-person venues, such as bars or clubs or through MSM-specific hook-up websites.
Methods Data were collected between August 2011 and January 2013 on all self-identified HIV-negative, MSM clients visiting the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center for STI screening. A total of 7184 individuals tested for STIs and self-reported behaviours on drug use and social networking methods to meet sexual partners. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to analyse the results.
Results Individuals who used GSN apps for meeting sexual partners had greater odds of testing positive for gonorrhoea (OR: 1.25; 95% CI 1.06 to 1.48) and for chlamydia (OR: 1.37; 95% CI 1.13 to 1.65) compared to individuals who met partners through in-person methods only. There were no significant differences in syphilis and HIV incidence between those who met partners via in-person venues only, on the internet or through GSN apps.
Conclusions The present study concludes that sexual health clinic MSM attendees who are meeting on GSN apps are at greater risk for gonorrhoea and chlamydia than MSM attendees who meet in-person or on the internet. Future interventions should explore the use of these novel technologies for testing promotion, prevention and education.
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