UN says dating apps helped foster a teen HIV epidemic

A UN study finds that dating apps helped spread a sexually transmitted disease in Asia.

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Jon Fingas
November 30th, 2015
UN says dating apps helped foster a teen HIV epidemic

Dating apps certainly have their virtues, but a new UN study suggests that they could sometimes play a big role in spreading sexually transmitted diseases. The report finds that dating apps helped spread an HIV epidemic among teens in the Asia-Pacific region by facilitating more casual sex. Effectively, they created networks where infections could quickly spread -- one HIV-positive person could easily affect numerous lives.

This isn't to say that the software is promoting irresponsible behavior. If anything, it's social factors driving teens toward these app-based hookups. The epidemic is spreading fastest among gay males, who are frequently criminalized and stigmatized in the region -- the apps give them a chance to date without the threat of jail time or social isolation. Combine that with inadequate sex education and a lack of teen HIV testing and you have legions of young men eager to find sex without understanding the risks. The UN believes that app developers should do more to educate users about HIV, but that's only one part of a larger solution.

[Image credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

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