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Swipe Right for STIs

Swipe Right for STIs


Rhode Island report links hookup sites to infection rate increase.

Is your Grindr habit leaving you vulnerable to STIs? A startling report from the Rhode Island Department of Health showed that in just one year infection rates for STIs jumped within the state.

From 2013 to 2014 infections for syphilis increased by 79 percent while gonorrhea infections increased by 3 percent, and HIV infections continued to climb, up 33 percent.  

The report noted that the increase in infections follows a national trend of increases in syphilis infections across the states. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2013 report, syphilis infections increased by 10 percent since 2012, particularly among gay and bisexual men. Syphilis is often linked to HIV infections.

Rhode Island public health officials noted that during the '80s and '90s public health programs like needle exchanges and testing pregnant mothers for HIV had greatly reduced the number of STI infections.

Now, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health, we’re seeing an increase in infection rates because of high-risk behaviors like using social media for anonymous, casual sex; sex with multiple partners; having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and forgoing the use of condoms.  

"These new data underscore the importance of encouraging young people to begin talking to a doctor, nurse, or health educator about sexual health before becoming sexually active and especially after becoming sexually active," said Rosemary Reilly-Chammat, HIV/AIDS sexuality specialist. "It's never too early to learn about making HIV and STD testing part of routine healthcare. Doctors and nurses are trained to discuss sensitive topics like sex, and conversations with them are confidential. Health educators at schools or community health centers are great resources too."

According to the Huffington Post this not the first time hooking up over the internet has been linked to increased STI rates. In 2013 a New York University study linked a 16 percent increase in HIV infections between 1999 and 2008 to Craigslist hookups. 

But the increase in STIs is not just happening in Rhode Island, and, according to our recent report, experts can't agree on why it's happening. So Grindr and Tinder might be off the hook.

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