Study: 29% of STI apps distribute harmful information

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A study in Sexually Transmitted Infections reviewed 87 STI-focused mobile health apps available on the Google Play and iTunes stores.

The researchers, led by Dr. Jo Gibbs of the University College London's research department of infection and population health, conducted a systematic review of these apps. They assessed the apps against 19 modified Health on The Net Foundation principles and in terms of the comprehensiveness and accuracy of information on STIs, genital infections, diagnosis and management.

Only 15 percent of the apps were fully accurate; 53 percent were mostly accurate and 32 percent were partially accurate. A total of 29 percent contained at least one piece of potentially harmful information. The researchers found that apps available on both Androids and iPhones were more accurate than single-platform health apps.

The researchers concluded, "marked variation in content, quality and accuracy of available apps combined with the nearly one-third containing potentially harmful information risks undermining potential benefits of an e-Health approach to sexual health and well-being."

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