Background Mobile phone apps are now the most popular method that Australian gay men use to find sex partners. Partner-seeking mobile phone apps use location functions to identify like-minded men and display their proximity. This study examines whether meeting partners via mobile apps is associated with a greater risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than with other ways of meeting partners.
Methods Data were analysed from the Gay Community Periodic Surveys, community-based, cross-sectional surveys conducted in Australian state capital cities between 2010 and 2014. χ2 tests and multinomial logistic regression were used to analyse differences in risk profiles of men who used different methods to meet partners.
Results Data were analysed from 36 428 men who participated in the Gay Community Periodic Surveys between 2010 and 2014. In 2014, 4116 men reported meeting sex partners with the use of mobile apps, increasing from 23.9% in 2011 to 42.5% in 2014. Men who used a combination of online and offline methods reported a greater number of sex partners and were more likely to report a recent STI than men who used online methods only or offline methods only.
Conclusions There has been a steep increase in the use of mobile phone apps by gay men in Australia to meet male partners. However, men who use a combination of mobile phone apps, internet websites and offline places to meet partners appear to be at increased risk of STIs or HIV compared with men who use a narrower range of online and offline methods.
- GAY MEN
- SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR
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Handling editor Jackie A Cassell
Contributors MH, PH, GP, IZ, JdW and LM contributed to the design of the Gay Community Periodic Surveys, including questionnaire construction, data collection, analysis and reporting. MH and PH had the idea for the analysis presented here and took primary responsibility for writing and revising the paper. PH undertook the statistical analysis, with inputs from MH, LM and JdW, and drafted the methods and results sections. All authors commented on drafts of the paper and agreed with the final version.
Funding The Centre for Social Research in Health and The Kirby Institute receive funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. The Gay Community Periodic Surveys are funded by the health departments from each participating state and territory.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval UNSW Human Research Ethics Committee.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.