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He and others would like to see online networks engaged in data collection on STDs, partner notification, condom promotion, and distributing information about self-testing and STDs.
“If you’re going to hook up, protect yourself and your partner …
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.
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.
State Health Agencies, the CDC, and Health Advocacy groups have declared a public health crisis among the LGBT that is sweeping across the nation.
According to a series of studies, they are calling sex hookup apps such as Tinder and Grindr the “new bathhouses” are responsible for the massive rise in the spread of deadly and sometimes incurable illnesses and are traced directly to the LGBT: In 2015, health officials in Rhode Island released data showing a dramatic spike in cases of syphilis (79 percent), gonorrhea (30 percent), and HIV (33 percent) in the previous year.
An even bigger issue, said Michael Weinstein, the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, is that apps have also changed the modes of disease transmission in sexual networks, making it easier for infections to spread.
“Because these are closed pools of people in limited geographies [using dating apps], it means that infections can spread more easily,” he said.
Either way, dating apps and sites appear to be helping facilitate connections — and disease outbreaks — that may not have otherwise happened.