Sexual health promotion for MSM through smartphone apps

20 October 2014

HIVribbon.jpg

An HIV ribbon

It has been suggested that smartphone apps have the potential to encourage sexual health among men who have sex with men (MSM). Smartphone apps for dating and casual sex have developed substantially and have become widely used by MSM over the last few years. As a result, health organisations are becoming increasingly aware of using these apps for sexual health advertisements, a recent report in the Lancet reveals.

Grindr, one such application that MSM use for both dating and casual sex, is working with numerous sexual and public health organisations to promote safe sex among its users through methods such as pop-up advertisements, links to sexual health clinics and testing centres as well as information about safe sex. Other apps state a users HIV status and date of last HIV test. However, pop-up advertisements and health promotion messages often require health organisations to pay a fee. Some apps such as Grindr, offer a discount to health organisations committed to public health.

While some smartphone apps like Grindr, are providing a platform for sexual health promotion and working with public health organisations, other apps are failing to engage in sexual health promotion. Apps therefore remain both an effective method for sexual health promotion but also a challenge for sexual health providers to try and disseminate health information to this vulnerable group. As sexual health promotion through apps increases however, it will be important to understand the outcomes of these health messages for MSM, with regards to factors such as going for an HIV test and increasing understanding of sexual health issues.

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Copyright AVERT

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