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These places, after all, had become important meeting points for men who have sex with men — the group most affected by the HIV epidemic.
Today, the public health focus has shifted to what some have called “digital bathhouses.” “Now that dating sites and apps have become so common, we know we need to work with them,” Wohlfeiler said.
Some of the best research on the sex lives of dating app users suggests they tend to have more sexual partners than non-app users.
That means people who are drawn to apps may just be more sexually active than non-users, said lead study author Justin Lehmiller, a sex and psychology researcher with Ball State University.
When it comes to the US, the much bigger sites like Tinder and Grindr — which have some 50 million and 10 million users, respectively — aren’t doing enough, according to health advocates.
In other words, what matters more than the apps themselves may be the behavior of people who use them.
Health advocates say it’s time they acknowledge that impact — and begin to help fight the STDs they may be helping to spread.
Health officials in states around the country have linked recent STD outbreaks to the rise in internet dating.
An even bigger issue, said Michael Weinstein, the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, is that apps have also changed the modes of disease transmission in sexual networks, making it easier for infections to spread.
“Because these are closed pools of people in limited geographies [using dating apps], it means that infections can spread more easily,” he said.
making that hip and cool is something the apps could help with a great deal,” said Weinstein.