Brown University study connects online dating to HIV's spread

Over 60 percent of Rhode Island men who have sex with men and were diagnosed with HIV in 2013 met their sexual partners online.
Over 60 percent of Rhode Island men who have sex with men and were diagnosed with HIV in 2013 met their sexual partners online. | File photo
A study published last month in the journal Public Health Reports shows that over 60 percent of Rhode Island men who have sex with men and were diagnosed with HIV in 2013 met their sexual partners online.

The research -- authored by Brown University, the Miriam Hospital, and the Rhode Island Department of Health -- revealed that of 74 newly diagnosed Rhode Island residents, three out of five were gay or bisexual men and 22 of those believed they had contracted HIV from a man they met online.

The report has prompted its authors to call for online dating sites and dating apps to work with public health groups to better spread messages of the risk of sexual encounters arranged through online meetings. The idea is to present advertising that is both affordable and thorough to communities that are most likely to be affected by these risks.

Several websites were named as popular among these men, some of which are also used by women. Brown University, partnering with its coauthors, is urging these sites to spread awareness of the danger to prevent future outbreaks of the virus. 

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