An increase in the number of gay men using gay social apps, such as Grindr, is to blame for a syphilis epidemic, according to a New Zealand doctor.

Citing data from this year and last, Heather Young, of the Christchurch Sexual Health Clinic pointed out a fall in the number of syphilis infections in men using saunas or clubs, but a rise in those who use mobile phone apps such as Grindr.

The Senior Clinician told TVNZ: “In 2011, sex-on-site venues were associated with 50 per cent of syphilis cases but in 2012 it is more commonly found after use of internet dating sites or the Grindr app,”

“People think syphilis is an old infection that is not associated with the modern day but it is re-emerging globally,”

Ed Coughlan, clinical director of sexual health at the Canterbury District Health Board, commented :

“It’s difficult to say why it’s increased recently but once it’s in the community, among the men who have sex with men population, it’s just very infectious, so it’s just spreading.”

Young urged gay men to “take responsibility” by making sure they get tested regularly.

Grindr was in the news recently, as a The People newspaper claimed that the app crashed during the arrival of thousands of athletes, and their support staff, in London ahead of the Olympics.