Tinder and Grindr dating apps ‘are causing cases of syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV to soar’, experts claim
- Syphilis cases rose 79%, gonorrhoea 30% and HIV almost 33% say experts
- Rhode Island figures reflect a trend across the US, health officials warn
- Blame high-risk sexual encounters, such as arranging sex on social media
- Warn sex without a condom and having multiple partners is also a risk (DUH!)
Dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr are fuelling a rise in syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV, health experts have warned.
Rates of the sexually transmitted infections have increased, local officials note, mirroring a national trend.
They warn high-risk behaviours – including using social media such as dating apps to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters – are to blame.
And they warn having sex without a condom, having multiple sexual partners and having sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also increase the risk of suffering an STI.
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Arranging sexual encounters via social media apps, such as Tinder and Grindr have been blamed, in part, for a rise in cases of syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV, health experts have warned
The Rhode Island Department of Health revealed that from 2013 to 2014 cases of syphilis rose by 79 per cent and HIV, pictured, by almost 33 per cent
The Rhode Island Department of Health revealed from 2013 to 2014, cases of syphilis rose by 79 per cent, gonorrhoea by 30 per cent and HIV by almost 33 per cent.
Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the department, said: ‘These data send a clear signal that despite the progress we have made in reducing STDs and HIV over the years, there is more work to do.’
The department noted, ‘the recent upturn in STDs in Rhode Island follows a national trend’.
Officials added: ‘The increase has been attributed to better testing by providers and to high-risk behaviours that have become more common in recent years.’
They warned new cases of HIV, Aids and infectious syphilis continue to increase among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, at a faster rate than in other populations.
Infection rates of all STIs were also seen to have a greater impact on the African-American, Hispanic, and young adult populations, experts said.
Ms Alexander-Scott, said: ‘We are fortunate in Rhode Island to have great partnerships among state agencies, community-based organisations, and healthcare providers to continue to educate, test and treat for sexually transmitted diseases.
Cases of gonorrhoea, pictured, increased by 30 per cent in that time period, experts said. They warned the trend reflects a national trend, and added that there is more to do to stem the rise
This trend reminds us that we cannot become complacent.’
She said key public health programmes have helped curb the number of people suffering STIs in the state over the last three decades.
Routine testing of pregnant women has almost eliminated the number of babies born to mothers with HIV.
And needle exchange programmes have drastically reduced transmission among drug users.
In addition, education about prevention, routine testing and treatment have also been priorities for the state’s health department.
Apps themselves have a role to play in delivering this (safe sex) message
Dr Rosemary Gillespie, of the Terrence Higgins Trust
Rosemary Reilly-Chammat, an HIV and Aids specialist, added: ‘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.
‘It’s never too early to learn about making HIV and STD testing part of routine healthcare.
‘Doctors and nurses are trained to discuss sensitive topics like sex, and conversations with them are confidential.
‘Health educators at schools or community health centres are great resources too.’
Dr Rosemary Gillespie, chief executive at the UK-based Terrence Higgins Trust, said dating apps have a role to play in warning users of the dangers of practising unsafe sex.
She told MailOnline: ‘Dating apps have given people more opportunities to meet potential partners than ever before, and we are currently looking at their impact on gay men’s sexual health.
‘In the meantime, it is really important that the safer sex message stays strong, and that people know how to protect themselves and their partners.
‘Apps themselves have a role to play in delivering this message, and we currently work with a number of them on this.’
COULD YOU HAVE AN STI?
Anyone who is sexually active can help reduce their chances of an STIs by ensuring they do not have sex without a condom
Sexually transmitted infections are spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex, and by skin-to-skin contact.
People with undiagnosed or untreated STIs can develop long-term health problems and pass the disease on to their sexual partners.
Anyone who is sexually active can stop the spread of STIs and HIV by:
- practising safe sex
- using condoms or dental dam each time you have sex
- realising contraception does not protect against STIs
- getting tested regularly for STIs and HIV
Even if you are treated for an STI, it is possible to become re-infected if your partner is not tested and treated too.
If you are diagnosed with an STI it is important to take any medication prescribed by your doctor.
It is also important to refrain from having sex with anyone until your doctor tells you it is safe to do so.
Avoid sex or close contact with your partner if they have symptoms of an STI, and seek medical help.
Source: Rhode Island Department of Health
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