This article was published on February 12th, 2020
Since dramatically changing the way we live, smartphones have become a new tool for health experts to utilize to promote sexual health among men who have sex with men. Through popular gay apps, health organizations have led initiatives that have educated the community about issues affecting a wide range of sexual health issues. HomoCulture delves deeper into the world of gay hook-up apps, sexual health organizations, and what methods are currently being used to promote sexual health within the gay community.
The most popular gay apps out there have become an almost daily aspect of many gay men’s lives, with most used primarily for casual sex. Thus, these apps have led many health-related organizations to advertise on them to encourage gay men to protect their sexual health by proffering information on where the nearest STI clinic is, or where to find post-exposure prophylaxis if exposed to HIV, and a host of other health-related messages.
Research has already shown that being able to provide comprehensive, updated sexual health materials through smartphones is far more effective than through websites. In fact, more than two-thirds of young people use their mobile devices to get information, including data related to sexual health. And since most users are not likely to download health-related apps directly, it has been far more effective to disseminate information via gay apps that are frequented by men of all ages.
Why MSM Apps Are Targeted by Sexual Health Organizations
Many of the gay men using hook-up apps are also participating in risky sexual practices that involve recreational drugs that make transmission of STIs far more likely. This makes it even more pressing that apps feature links to groups that offer drug counseling and support as well as sexual health information. There have been several successful campaigns that have used gay apps to disseminate information that has resulted in the reduction of hepatitis C transmission.
Some organizations have even set up pop-up testing sites in several areas of gay neighborhoods to encourage members of the LGBTQ+ community to get tested with no stigma surrounded around the act. Of course, these organizations have had to pay these apps for inclusion on their sites, but all told, the end result has been well worth it according to most accounts.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Gay Apps to Disseminate Sexual Health Information
The fact that smartphones come with geo-tracking on them makes it easier than ever before for someone to find the HIV and STI testing sites near them, often in a discreet way. Gay apps also remind users to engage in safe sex practices at a time when they most need to hear it – right before the actual act is to occur. On several apps, users have the option of disclosing their status online, the last time they were treated, and if they use PrEP. While many app users believe in this feature, there are those that dislike it and that it negatively affects their experience by taking the fun out of a spontaneous meeting.
Gay Apps as the New Source of Information
The success of gay apps to inform members of the LGBTQ+ community cannot be denied any longer and many have become the go-to source for man gay men instead of going to clinics first, which was previously the most relied on method. Many in the healthcare field have credited gay apps for legitimizing and decriminalizing gay sex around the world, but yet and still, some challenges remain that must be addressed. This technology also means that it is even more important than ever before that members of the community are kept up to date on the latest issues in sexual health.
In the future, it is expected that more sexual health clinics and drug prevention centers will turn to smartphone apps to get the message across in order to better assist those that may need it. Just as important is that the information disseminated be done so in a way that is engaging, resonates with readers, is not too clinical, and is delivered by organizations that are respected within the community. Overall, the studies done so far find that these new interventions in promoting sexual health via gay apps and social media has been a success and one that will only be elevated in the coming years.