Gay dating app Grindr is being blamed in New Zealand for the rise in sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis.
Christchurch Sexual Health Clinic’s Heather Young said gay men would usually contract syphilis while clubbing or visiting saunas, TVNZ reports.
She said: ‘In 2011, sex-on-site venues were associated with 50% of syphilis cases but in 2012 it is more commonly found after use of internet dating sites or the Grindr app.’
Grindr, which has already found success in the UK and US, has many fans across the world.
The app uses global positioning system to allow other members to find other gay men nearby.
Young said gay men needed to be aware of the outbreak and ‘take responsibility’ by ensuring they were tested.
‘People think syphilis is an old infection that is not associated with the modern day but it is reemerging globally,’ she said.
As a policy, Grindr bans users from mentioning they are looking for unprotected intimate activity, and will remove profiles of those who violate that regulation.
Grindr spokesman Justin Howard also says they try to promote safe sex in messages that appear when users log in, and occasionally list nearby clinics where users can get tested.
He says: ‘We try to educate and inform in a fun and engaging way.
‘We try to spell it out as plain as we can to encourage safe behavior, and they can choose to read more or close it.’
Canterbury District Health Board clinical director of sexual health Ed Coughlan said the average age of people contracting the STD had dropped from 46 to 24, with men as young as 19 being affected.
He said: ‘It’s difficult to say why it’s increased recently but once it’s in the community, among the men who have sex with men population, it’s just very infectious, so it’s just spreading.’
An Environmental Science and Research report showed there was 83 syphilis cases reported last year in New Zealand.