Science and internet dating

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For instance, epidemiologists have documented a rise in sex without condoms among men who have sex with men.But health experts increasingly view apps and sites such as Tinder, Grindr, and Ok Cupid as enablers of high-risk sex, helping people meet and hook up more efficiently than ever before.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.The uptick, they said, wasn’t an outlier — it was part of a national trend.“It may not be that the technology is increasing the risk, but rather there’s this selection effect for people who are more sexually active who tend to use the apps,” he explained.In other words, what matters more than the apps themselves may be the behavior of people who use them.“They realize that their sites could be stigmatized for being associated with STDs.They do as little as possible.” Just as ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have disrupted transportation — and required new regulations and cultural adaptations — dating sites have disrupted the way people have sex.

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.Either way, dating apps and sites appear to be helping facilitate connections — and disease outbreaks — that may not have otherwise happened.As health experts learn more about the links between high-risk behavior enabled by dating apps and STD outbreaks, they’re finding that apps make the work of tracking cases harder to do.Health advocates say it’s time they acknowledge that impact — and begin to help fight the STDs they may be helping to spread.Health officials in states around the country have linked recent STD outbreaks to the rise in internet dating.

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