Background: Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) face higher rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) compared with the general population. The association between venues where sexual partners are met and STI transmission is dynamic and poorly understood, especially among those who use geosocial networking (GSN) apps. This study aimed to determine whether there is a difference in STI incidence between MSM who met their last sexual partner through a GSN app and MSM who met their last partner via other venues.
Methods: Data were analyzed from HIV-negative MSM attending the Los Angeles LBGT Center between August 2015 and July 2016 (n = 9499). Logistic regression models were used to investigate the relationship between STI incidence and whether or not an individual met his last partner through a GSN app.
Results: No relationship was detected between STI incidence and whether one's last sexual partner was met via GSN app. However, an association was detected between STI incidence and having used GSN apps to meet sexual partners in the past 3 months. A dose-response relationship was observed between the number of venues used to meet partners and testing positive for any STI (adjusted odds ratio, 1.08; 95% confidence interval, 1.02-1.14).
Conclusions: The relationship between how people meet sexual partners and STI acquisition is much more nuanced than previously thought. Geosocial networking apps do not inherently expose users to high-risk reservoirs of STIs, but further understanding of the complexity of sexual networks and networking methods is warranted, given increasing rates of STIs.