Oh, what’s that? Dating apps have led to the rise of sexually transmitted diseases (STD)? Last September, a billboard was constructed beside Tinder headquarters in Los Angeles showing four silhouettes bearing names of dating apps and STDs.
The billboard, part of AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s advocacy to get checked for sexually transmitted diseases, caused controversy as to whether or not dating apps do result to such.
Supporting the claim is Rhode Island’s department of health, which said that the rise of STDs in Rhode Island “has been attributed to better testing by providers and to high-risk behaviours that have become more common in recent years.” A 2014 study also claims that people who use dating apps “had greater odds of testing positive for gonorrhoea… and for chlamydia.”
The Daily Dot, however, begs to differ. Using an interactive STD data set provided by the Centers for Disease Control, they found out that the rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis “seem more or less stable over time, with rates of chlamydia rising steadily for many years prior to the introduction of smartphones.”
The Daily Dot also pointed out that data for the 2014 study above was collected from a sample of 7,184 men within a small U.S. region, not to mention a single clinic.
Cynthia McKelvey proposes a theory that “people who use apps are more likely to engage in risky behaviors like not using condoms either because sexual risk-takers are more likely to be drawn to those apps,” challenging the claim that the apps themselves are the ones that cause people to avoid using sexual protection. She also points at one study that only uses “a small group of people in an isolated region.”
On the other hand, the article also points out that Tinder does not provide messages in their apps that remind users the importance of safe sex. Grindr’s safety tips, for instance, also lack such reminders.