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The impact of these sites is so profound they are also transforming the way health officials track and prevent outbreaks.“We used to think about what we can do with bathhouses and sex clubs to make sure people’s risk was reduced,” said Dan Wohlfeiler, director of Building Healthy Online Communities, a public health group that works with apps to support STI prevention.“Because these are closed pools of people in limited geographies [using dating apps], it means that infections can spread more easily,” he said.
“They are hesitant to support sexual health,” said Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine and STD researcher at UCLA.
“They realize that their sites could be stigmatized for being associated with STDs.
Health officials in states around the country have linked recent STD outbreaks to the rise in internet dating.
In one study looking at the link between Craigslist personal ads and HIV, researchers at the University of Minnesota identified an increase in HIV cases in 33 states between 19 — and determined that the advent of Craigslist alone contributed to a 16 percent increase in cases.
As health experts learn more about the links between high-risk behavior enabled by dating apps and STD outbreaks, they’re finding that apps make the work of tracking cases harder to do.
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 UK, the National Health Service is pushing major networks like Tinder and Grindr to advertise places that provide free (or affordable) condoms because of the role they’re playing the rise of sexually transmitted diseases among young men who have sex with men.
When it comes to the US, the much bigger sites like Tinder and Grindr — which have some 50 million and 10 million users, respectively — aren’t doing enough, according to health advocates.
They do as little as possible.” Just as ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have disrupted transportation — and required new regulations and cultural adaptations — dating sites have disrupted the way people have sex.
Health advocates say it’s time they acknowledge that impact — and begin to help fight the STDs they may be helping to spread.
In Nevada, a record number of syphilis cases last year was attributed, in part, to the “rise in anonymous sex via social media.” In California, Klausner said, the state health department is increasingly hearing that people with STDs met their partners on sites like Grindr.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating