Health Dept.: Dating apps lead to rise in STD cases

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in Rhode Island, and health officials believe the increase is due in part to the rise in popularity of dating apps.

According to a recent report from the Rhode Island Department of Health, syphilis cases increased by 79 percent between 2013 and 2014, while gonorrhea and HIV infections rose by more than 30 percent.

The department’s director, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, said people using apps like Tinder and Grindr to meet complete strangers for casual sex is part of an alarming nationwide trend.

“If you’re using online websites or geo-locating apps, get their names, get their information so that we can help contact them or contact you if there’s a new infection and help prevent further spread,” she said.

Dr. Alexander-Scott said the sharp rise in STDs can also be attributed to better testing by health care providers.

This isn’t, however, the first time online dating has been blamed for a rise in STDs. A 2013 study found that people meeting on Craigslist was responsible for a 16 percent jump in HIV cases across 33 states between 1999 and 2008.

“The only way to really do that is to get tested routinely and to use condoms,” said Dr. Alexander-Scott.

Aside from protection, Dr. Alexander-Scott said education is key.

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