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The growing use of casual sex and dating apps in countries which have high levels of homophobia could lead to an increase in cases of HIV.While gay and bisexual men living in countries with low tolerance for homosexuality used to have fewer sexual partners, thanks to the emergence of new dating apps that is now changing.Try Newsweek: Subscription offers However, due to the stigma of homosexuality in certain countries, men are less likely to have access to health services and information about the HIV virus, fearing discrimination and violence if they admit to being gay, according to a study in the journal AIDS.

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"Our findings are surprising as it may appear it's effectively safer for men to stay in the closet in the most homophobic countries," said study co-author Ford Hickson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. is also a place where men are kept ignorant, under resourced and poorly skilled when dealing with sex and HIV.

As the way people meet changes with technology, the homophobia that may have appeared to be protecting these men will now be exposing them to huge risk," Hickson continued.

The researchers analysed the use of HIV services and the needs and behavior of 175,000 gay and bisexual men living in 38 European countries.

While the study did not name the countries that they were referring to, according to The Moscow Times, an index compiled by rights group ILGA-Europe names Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia as the worst countries in Europe for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights.

Russia along with Ukraine account for more than 85% of HIV cases in Eastern Europe and central Asia, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Last modified 01-Sep-2016 13:07