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These places, after all, had become important meeting points for men who have sex with men — the group most affected by the HIV epidemic.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.

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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.

“There’s no doubt meeting new partners is much easier with apps,” Wohlfeiler added.

“Because these are closed pools of people in limited geographies [using dating apps], it means that infections can spread more easily,” he said.

“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.

“In Wyoming there are still no gay bars, but the internet makes it much easier for people to find each other.” But the data we have only demonstrates a correlation between online dating and STDs — not causation.

Some of the best research on the sex lives of dating app users suggests they tend to have more sexual partners than non-app users.His group, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has put up billboards and bus ads showing silhouettes of people kissing with the names of dating apps (Tinder and Grindr) and STDs, in the hopes of sending the message that encounters originating online can lead to infections.Tinder responded with a cease-and-desist order, but settled with the foundation in January 2016 after agreeing to add a health safety section to its website.For instance, epidemiologists have documented a rise in sex without condoms among men who have sex with men.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.And that means any diseases those partners might have can spread more easily too.

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