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.
Either way, dating apps and sites appear to be helping facilitate connections — and disease outbreaks — that may not have otherwise happened.
As health experts learn more about the links between high-risk behavior enabled by dating apps and STD outbreaks, they’re finding that apps make the work of tracking cases harder to do.
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.
But with more anonymous sexual encounters, epidemiologists may not be able to track down people’s partners and notify them that they might have an STD, Auerbach said.
And that means any diseases those partners might have can spread more easily too.
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