Sex Risk among Young Men who have Sex with Men who use Grindr, a Smartphone Geosocial Networking Application

Rice, Eric; Holloway, Ian; Winetrobe, Hailey; Rhoades, Harmony; Barman-Adhikari, Anamika; Gibbs, Jeremy; Carranza, Adam; Dent, David; Dunlap, Shannon
July 2012
Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research;Special2012, Vol. 3 Issue S, Special section p1
Academic Journal
Objectives: Smartphone geosocial networking applications, like Grindr, have become a new context through which young men who have sex with men (YMSM) can meet potential sex partners. Geosocial networking applications move beyond online social networking websites like Facebook by utilizing smartphones' geo-location functions to facilitate connections with other users based on their current physical location. This study presents data on HIV risk-taking behaviors of YMSM who use Grindr, comparing the sex behaviors with partners met via the application to behaviors with partners met via other means (e.g., a bar, through friends, online). Methods: Utilizing the geo-locating feature of Grindr, 195 YMSM, aged 18 to 24, were randomly recruited based on their location within West Hollywood and Long Beach, CA between August and October, 2011. Participants completed an online survey. Results: YMSM reported using Grindr for entertainment, socializing, partner seeking, and gay community connection. Seventy-five percent of users reported sexual encounters with partners met on Grindr. YMSM reported significantly higher rates of condom use with partners met on Grindr (59.8%) relative to those partners met elsewhere (41.9%). Only 14.7% reported unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) with their last Grindr partner. YMSM who reported UAI with their last partners from Grindr reported significantly more recent male anal sex partners than YMSM who reported no UAI with their last Grindr-met partners. Conclusions: Grindr was used by YMSM for a variety of reasons, and not exclusively for the purpose of sex partner seeking. Overall YMSM who use Grindr practice safer sex with partners met via the application than with partners met elsewhere. YMSM engaging in UAI with partners on Grindr are an especially high-risk group and should be targeted by prevention efforts. Sexual risk behavior with geosocial networking-located partners could be addressed with mobile HIV prevention applications, or within Grindr and other similar applications.


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