A large number of newly HIV diagnosed men in the US believe that they contracted the infection from a partner they met online, new research has found.
More than 60 percent of men in a US state who have sex with men (MSM) diagnosed with HIV in 2013 reported meeting sexual partners online in the preceding year, the findings showed.
“This is a statewide study that included nearly all individuals newly diagnosed with HIV across an entire state,” said one of the researchers Amy Nunn, associate professor at Brown University.
In 2013, 74 Rhode Island residents were newly diagnosed with HIV.
Three in five were gay, bisexual, or other MSM, and of those 43 people, 22 told researchers they believe a man they met online gave them the virus.
The study, published in the journal Public Health Reports, suggests that online dating websites can be roped in to spread awareness about ways to prevent HIV infection.
“This is one of the first studies to document how common Internet site use is among people newly diagnosed with HIV and highlights important opportunities to partner with hookup sites to advance public health,” Nunn noted.
Companies that produce hookup websites and apps should partner with public health groups, to share public health messages about the risks of sexual encounters arranged online, the researchers said.
For instance, sites and apps could provide affordable advertising access to help prevent infection in communities that are most impacted by HIV, the authors said.