If you think apps for gay men were all about hookups, it turns out that 80% of gay men say they have met their long-term partner on one of them.
New research published in AIDS and Behavior has shown the number of gay men who have met their partners online has jumped dramatically, going from 14% in 2001 to 80% last year.
During the same time period, men who met partners at bars, sex-on-premises venues and through friends or other venues dropped.
Researchers argue health organizations need to rethink how they are comminicating sexual health messages online, saying it’s time to move past condoms in club toilets and onto effective multimedia tools for different users depending on what they are looking for.
Garrett PRestage, a sociology associate professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, said the sheer amount of men using apps like Grindr, Scruff and Tinder cast doubt on who is exactly in danger of STIs.
‘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,’ he told The Star Observer.
‘This data show that this is faulty logic because most gay men meet partners this way… be that romantic or sexual.
‘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.’
Research that showed people who used these apps had more STIs are only stigmatizing users, Prestage suggests.
‘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.’
As a policy, the majority of gay dating apps bans users from mentioning they are looking for unprotected intimate activity, and will remove profiles of those who violate that regulation.