More gay men are now meeting their boyfriends and long-term partners on dating/hookup apps than ever before!
New research published in the AIDS and Behaviour and backed by the National Health and Medical Research Council, showed that while only 14% of gay men met their partners online in 2001, by last year that number had jumped to 80%.
During the same time period, men who met partners at bars, sex-on-premises venues and through friends had dropped dramatically. Last year, research from the Los Angeles LGBT Centre showed users of dating apps were 42 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with gonorrhoea and 37 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with chlamydia than men who met through other means, such as bars or online.
“One of the things that been talked about a lot over the last decade is that men who meet online are of a higher risk,” said University of NSW’s Kirby Institute sociology associate professor Garrett Prestage.
“This data show that this is faulty logic because most gay men meet partners this way… be that romantic or sexual,” he added. “If they’re comparing it with men who don’t use apps they’re comparing men who are sexually active with those who are not.”
Prestage added that “the myth that an online hook up is only just about sex” could mean some health organisations’ HIV prevention outreach utilising the medium could be falling flat.
“A more sensible approach is simply to accept that men are more likely to meet via online methods these days and make sure that there are appropriate online interventions and information,” he said.
“Instead, health bodies should use different messaging of different apps depending on whether users were looking for long term partners or simply a fuckbuddy.
“You can’t just talk about ‘hook up apps’ because it covers too much, it would be the same as saying all gay bars are the same.”
“Apps allow us to reach specific target audiences… such as younger men, Asian men and sexually adventurous men with messages customised for different apps,” said ACON’s director of HIV and sexual health, Karen Price. “Apps can help increase awareness of campaigns , especially by repetition, but are insufficient on their own to really drive engagement.”