Sex on demand: geosocial networking phone apps and risk of sexually transmitted infections among a cross-sectional sample of men who have sex with men in Los Angeles County

Sex Transm Infect. 2014 Nov;90(7):567-72. doi: 10.1136/sextrans-2013-051494. Epub 2014 Jun 12.


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.


Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bisexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Geographic Mapping*
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Applications / statistics & numerical data*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Social Networking*
  • Syphilis / epidemiology
  • Young Adult