According to a recent statement by the British Association For Sexual Health and HIV, dating apps are causing an increase in STDs. This is hardly an outrageous conclusion, and not nearly the first of its kind. Over the past few years, there have been multiple studies and articles similarly slamming Tinder, Grindr and the like for encouraging NSA hookups and unsafe sex. Between 2012 and 2013, syphilis cases went up 30 percent in New York state, and in Rhode Island, HIV cases went up 33 percent — both of which were blamed on the ubiquity of dating apps.
Although it seems almost everyone and their mom is either a regular user of dating apps or knows someone who is, correlation does not equal causation. Meeting someone off the internet doesn't cause you to forget how to put a condom on, nor does it make you oblivious to the real world consequences of STDs.
There are a lot of problems with dating apps, but creating more sexually-transmitted infections isn't one of them. Sure there is a level of facilitation that is undeniable, but dating apps cannot be solely to blame for the recent increase in STD rates nationwide. Here are four reasons (besides Tinder) that STDs could be on the rise.
1. Sexual Education Is Inadequate
It's no secret that sex ed in the United States is woefully inadequate. According to the CDC, of the 20 million new STD cases each year, nearly half are among people ages 15-24. With only 22 states mandating sexual education, it's no wonder that people have no idea how to prevent STDs.
2. Safe Sex Isn't Depicted Frequently In Media
Safe sex was practically a required topic in 90s pop culture, and artists like Salt-N-Pepa and TLC openly sang and rapped about it. Today, it's rare to see mainstream characters in film or TV depicted practicing safe sex — and can you even name a major pop star that has even casually mentioned condoms or testing in recent years?
3. Sexual Stigma Has Increased
Although the internet allows for unfettered discussion about sexuality and safe sex practices, the rise in campus sexual assault and slut-shaming has made sex more synonymous with fear and pain than ever — which definitely doesn't help open up a dialogue about how to engage in it safely.
4. Medical Advances Make STDs Seem Less Of A Big Deal
Now that the medical community has made great strides in HIV, AIDS and other STD treatments, a lot of folks think STDs aren't really a big deal anymore. So have your fun and just pop a pill, right? Wrong. There are plenty of STDs that can have profoundly damaging effects on your health and life, so it's still really not a good idea to throw caution to the wind.
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