(MEDIA GENERAL) – The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) announced last week rates of sexually transmitted diseases have risen sharply over the past year, and HEALTH points the finger at one culprit: hookup apps.
Social media apps like Tinder and Grindr, which users use to connect with other people nearby for casual sex, have become a nationwide trend.
“The recent uptick in STDs in Rhode Island follows a national trend,” HEALTH said in a press release. “The increase has been attributed to better testing by (health care) providers and to high-risk behaviors that have become more common in recent years … (including) using social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters.”
HEALTH indicated syphilis cases increased by 79 percent from 2013 to 2014, while gonorrhea cases rose by 30 percent.
This isn’t the first time hookup apps have been blamed for a rise in STDs. First reported by CNN, a 2013 study found people meeting on Craigslist was responsible for a 16 percent increase in HIV cases between 1999 and 2008 across 33 states. Also, according to the Christchurch Sexual Health Clinic, more than half of all syphilis cases in New Zealand in 2012 were transmitted by men using Grindr, a hookup app for gay men.
“These new data underscore the importance of encouraging young people to begin talking to a doctor, nurse or health educator about sexual health before becoming sexually active, and especially after becoming sexually active,” said Rosemary Reilly-Chammat, an HIV/AIDS specialist with the Rhode Island Department of Education. “Doctors and nurses are trained to discuss sensitive topics like sex, and conversations with them are confidential. Health educators at schools or community health centers are great resources, too.”