As the number of sexually transmitted diseases reached new heights in the US, health officials say the internet is to blame. The Rhode Island Department of Health believes the ‘no strings attached’ encounters sponsored by hookup apps like Tinder and Grindr are encouraging people to be less careful about their sex life.
According to health officials, the number of syphilis cases recorded in Rhode Island rose by a stunning 79 percent during the last year. Same thing applies to other sexually transmitted diseases, although in smaller proportions – 30 percent increase in the number of gonorrhea cases and 33 percent in HIV.
The Rhode Island conclusions arrive only a few months after other reports showed the similar thing was happening in other parts of the nations. In Utah, for instance, the number of gonorrhea infections grew seven times over the past three years.
“The recent uptick in STDs in Rhode Island follows a national trend,” the report stated. “The increase has been attributed to better testing by providers and to high-risk behaviors that have become more common in recent years.”
Among the “high-risk behaviors” mentioned, health officials argue online hookup social platforms are at the root of the STD surge. After all, dating service providers have been blooming in the US over the past years, and despite a relatively large number of options, every app seems to find its own customers. The list includes Grindr, Tinder, Blender, Pure, Glimpse, JSwipe, Happn, Scruff, Down, Hinge… well, you get the idea.
The Rhode Island Department of Health argued this kind of apps promote irresponsible behavior, such as “anonymous sexual encounters, having sex without a condom, having multiple sex partners, and having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.” The findings seem to be supported by a STD clinic in Salt Lake County, where doctors found there is a strong connection between the surge of syphilis and gonorrhea and a higher acceptance of casual sex encounters.
Besides finding the cause behind the higher number of STDs, the Rhode Island report also offers a comprehensive analysis based on other traits of the patients, like gender, race or sexual orientation. The study pointed out that HIV and syphilis tends to spread at a higher rate among gay and bisexual men. Additionally, “African-American, Hispanic, and young adult populations” tend to have a higher risk of infection than others.
In the end, health officials were forced to admit that social media cannot be fully blamed for their failure to find high-risk sexual partners and prevent the spreading of STDs. The authorities believe sex education and affordable health care need to be reinforced before pointing the finger anywhere else.
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