Popular gay dating app Grindr blamed for syphilis outbreak in New Zealand

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from www.examiner.com – Grindr, a popular gay dating application that uses a global positioning system to allow members to find other gay men nearby, is being blamed for the rise in sexually transmitted diseases in New Zealand. Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection, is one of the STD’s on the rise according to Dr. Heather Young who told TVNZ:

“In 2011, sex-on-site venues were associated with 50 per cent of syphilis cases but in 2012 it is more common found after use of internet dating sites or the Grindr app.”

Grindr bans users who mention that they are looking for unprotected sex and will ban members who violate this policy. A spokesman from Grindr, Justin Howard, told Gaystarnewx that the dating app does promote safe sex and list nearby clinics where members can be tested. Howard says that they do try to “educate and inform in a fun and engaging way” encouraging safe behavior but it is up to the individual user to make use of the information.

Ed Coughlan, a clinical director of sexual health at the Canterbury District Heath Board states that once syphilis is “in the community, among the men who have sex with men population, it’s just very infectious, so it’s just spreading.”

This makes it more important that men of all ages take the responsibility of getting tested regularly. But young men should be more cautious as Coughlan also reports that the average age of people catching the STD had dropped from 46 to 24.

Grindr has found popularity in both the UK and US and recently blamed a recent outage on the arrival of thousands of athletes and their support staff during this year’s Olympic Games in London which is Grindr’s most active city of over 350,000 users. Company CEO Joel Simkhai later apologized to users for the outage.

Simkhai stated that he created the application as a way of connection. He stated:

“I think Grindr reflects real life. At the end of the day the application can only reflect its users. There are guys out there looking for love and there are those looking for sex. Often that can be the same guy, just at different times in his life or day.”

In that reflection of real life there is a need for responsibility. Although the app provides accessibility to other men, users need to be cautious of their own actions and educate themselves on prevention.

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