Year of Publication



Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

April M. Young, PhD, MPH

Committee Member

Steven T. Fleming, PhD, AM, MPA

Committee Member

W. Jay Christian, PhD, MPH


Background: Geosocial networking (GSN) applications (apps) have made finding sexual partners easier for partner-seeking MSM, raising challenges for HIV/STI prevention but also providing opportunities for research. To date, little is known about app usage in smaller cities where there may be more stigma surrounding MSM.

Objective: This study uses GSN apps to identify areas with high density partner-seeking MSM, and to characterize these areas using Census block group demographic measures in a Southern mid-sized city.

Methods: Data collection points (n=62) were spaced in two-mile increments along nine routes (112 miles) covering the area. At each point, staff recorded the number of GSN app users within one mile using three GSN apps during two time periods. Data was entered into ArcGIS and empirical Bayesian kriging was used to create a raster estimating the number of app users throughout the county. Raster values were summarized for each of the county's 208 census block groups and used as the outcome measure (i.e., GSN app usage). Using SAS v 9.4, Wilcoxon signed rank sum was used to examine temporal differences in app usage and negative log binomial regression examined census block group variables associated with GSN app usage.

Results: In adjusted analyses of census block group data, median income (p < 0.001) and percent Hispanic ethnicity (p < 0.001-0.045) were found to be negatively associated with spatial density of GSN app-using MSM for all times and GSN apps in the final models. The presence of business zoning (p < 0.001) and population density (p < 0.001-0.045) were found to be positively associated with spatial density of GSN app-using MSM for all times and GSN apps in the final models.

Conclusion: In this mid-sized city, GSN app usage was highest in areas with lower income but lowest in areas with larger Hispanic populations. This implies that Algarin 3 interventions using GSN apps could effectively be targeting lower income populations, but missing largely Hispanic communities.

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