From sexting to having readily available porn in your pocket, smartphones have revolutionized the sexual experience of most young people. Now there’s a doctor hoping to make that revolution just a little bit safer by creating an app that’s designed to encourage safe sex.
Dr. Michael Nusbaum calls his concept “safe bumping,” and his app (named MedXCom) is designed to allow potential sexual partners to “bump” their phones together, which will then spread their STD standing.
“If you happen to be out at a bar or a fraternity house or wherever, and you meet someone, you can then bump phones and exchange contact information and STD status,” Nusbaum told ABCNews.
Certainly there is a need for more sexual health sharing prior to actually doing the deed. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that, according to a 2011 poll , 47.4 per cent of teens have had intercourse and nearly half of the 19 million new STDs each year are cases of people aged 15 to 24.
Health Canada paints an equally unsettling picture: In 2005, 43 per cent of teens were sexually active and 25 per cent of them were not using condoms.
So what happens if you have had or currently have a STD? That information is kept secret but your phone will remind you to get another STD check-up. So the app is really more of a badge of clean sexual health rather than a less wordy way of discussing all of the details.
But like any aspect of sex, there are a few catches.
One is that there has to be a willingness of person to a) get screened by a doctor and have that information uploaded to his or her phone, and b) want to share that intimate information with strangers.
“It can take months for HIV to show up on a test,” Renee Williams, executive director of SAFE, a non-profit organization dedicated to abstinence education, told ABCNews. “So you can test negative today, go out on Friday night and have sex, and then get retested later and find out that you had HIV all along.”
Plus, critics point out the app does nothing to prevent unplanned pregnancies (well, duh).
Fundamentally, though, it’s a numbers game. For this to be effective, it has to infect the promiscuous population.
“Should this kind of practice catch on at parties, it’s easy to see how this could bring the teen STD rate down,” Jezebel’s Anna Breslaw writes. “But the idea of people trading clean bills of sexual health like Pokemon cards at a fraternity’s ‘CEOs and Corporate Hos’ party is a little bit farfetched.”