Rising std rate sparks online dating sites rules for online dating women
Today, the public health focus has shifted to “digital bathhouses." Wohlfeiler said, “Now that dating sites and apps have become so common, we know we need to work with them." There’s just one problem: Many of the major dating networks don’t want to be involved in STD prevention, nor have they acknowledged the impact they’re having on public health.
“They are hesitant to support sexual health,” said Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine and STD researcher at UCLA.
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.
But with more anonymous sexual encounters, epidemiologists may not be able to track down people’s partners and notify them that they might have an STD, Auerbach said.
And that means any diseases those partners might have can spread more easily too.
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.
But health experts increasingly view apps and sites such as Tinder, Grindr, and Ok Cupid as enablers of high-risk sex, helping people meet and hook up more efficiently than ever before.
The impact of these sites is so profound they are also transforming the way health officials track and prevent outbreaks.
Health advocates say it’s time they acknowledge that impact — and begin to help fight the STDs they may be helping to spread.
Health officials in states around the country have linked recent STD outbreaks to the rise in internet dating.“That’s why we call apps a ‘digital bathhouse.’” That’s also why public health officials are so eager to work with apps, to get them to add warnings and sexual health messages where users are convening — on the apps themselves.