Rising std rate sparks online dating sites
In one study looking at the link between Craigslist personal ads and HIV, researchers at the University of Minnesota identified an increase in HIV cases in 33 states between 19 — and determined that the advent of Craigslist alone contributed to a 16 percent increase in cases.In Nevada, a record number of syphilis cases last year was attributed, in part, to the “rise in anonymous sex via social media.” In California, Klausner said, the state health department is increasingly hearing that people with STDs met their partners on sites like Grindr.An even bigger issue, said Michael Weinstein, the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, is that apps have also changed the modes of disease transmission in sexual networks, making it easier for infections to spread.“Because these are closed pools of people in limited geographies [using dating apps], it means that infections can spread more easily,” he said.“We used to think about what we can do with bathhouses and sex clubs to make sure people’s risk was reduced,” said Dan Wohlfeiler, director of Building Healthy Online Communities, a public health group that works with apps to support STI prevention.These places, after all, had become important meeting points for men who have sex with men — the group most affected by the HIV epidemic.In particular, according to John Auerbach, president and CEO of the public health nonprofit the Trust for America’s Health, the anonymous encounters happening via apps make it harder to do contact tracing, a key epidemiological process in understanding an outbreak.In the past, when a person was diagnosed with a serious STD, a public health official would call or meet with his or her sexual partners to talk about getting tested and on potential treatment.
And while some of the new cases could be attributed to better testing, officials for the first time said STD rates were rising because of certain high-risk behaviors, including using online dating sites “to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters.” Since then, the trend for several STDs nationwide has only gotten worse: According to a September report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 2 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis reported in the United States in 2016 — the highest cumulative number ever recorded.
He and others would like to see online networks engaged in data collection on STDs, partner notification, condom promotion, and distributing information about self-testing and STDs.
“If you’re going to hook up, protect yourself and your partner ...
“They realize that their sites could be stigmatized for being associated with STDs.
They do as little as possible.” Just as ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have disrupted transportation — and required new regulations and cultural adaptations — dating sites have disrupted the way people have sex. Starting in a few days from now, we're running all future interviews as podcasts on i Tunes, Google Music, Stitcher and Tunein.