It’s much easier to date today, thanks to the “hookup culture” that’s taken hold. The Tinder and Grindr dating apps have made it easier than ever to find Mr. or Ms. Right Now. However, this also has led to an increase in the number of STD infections, with rates rising all over the state of California.
Many health experts believe there is a connection between the two.
Experts say the rates of chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea have grown significantly in California. In 2017, the diseases hit their highest rates in 30 years.
For instance, over 218,000 chlamydia cases had been reported in 2017 – the highest rate since 1990. Gonorrhea cases hit 75,000+ in 2017 – the highest rate since the late 1980s. In 2017, roughly 14,000 syphilis cases were reported – the highest rate since 1987.
A number of experts have noted the increase in STD is due to the rise in the number of dating apps.
Alameda County Health Department HIV STD Section Director Nicholas Moss said cell phones and the Internet have changed people’s lives including their sex lives. Dating apps have made it easier for people to meet anonymous sex partners. Numbers are not shared between the two users.
Grindr has roughly 27 million members; three million of them are actively using the site. Tinder has 46 million members with four million of them being paid subscribers.
Emily Fregoso is a college student at UC Berkeley who said the hookup culture is a real thing. She said she’s known people who have used the apps to have a casual encounter. After one date, a friend of hers was diagnosed with gonorrhea. Since it was transmitted to her, she reached out to the man who gave it to her who decided to ignore her.
Moss said dating apps may have led to the increase in STD rates, but they enable them to educate people on how to make healthy sexual choices.
Building Health Online Communities director Dan Wohlfeiler said many dating apps are trying to change the technology so that it can notify people of possible exposure. Wohlfeiler said the technology affords a plethora of tools that can be used – that will help people make better-informed choices.
Wohlfeiler is currently creating a platform that retains users’ anonymity but notifies sexual partners of the exposure to STDs. According to both technology and medical experts, technology is the key to a problem it’s contributed to.
Medical professionals encourage people to get tested for STDs every three to six months and to have open communications with their sexual partners.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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