Pew found the share of 18 to 24-year-olds who use online dating services has roughly tripled from 10 percent in 2013 to 27 percent today.Additionally, participation among 55 to 64-year-olds has also risen with 12 percent reporting having ever used an online dating site or mobile dating app versus only 6 percent in 2013.
The CDC, while acknowledging a lack of hard evidence linking dating apps with the spread of STDs, does admit that anonymous sexual partners can make it difficult to offer partner services, like expedited partner therapy, or track down people who may have been infected, but who may not know it, in order to prevent the further spread. Wiesenfeld, medical director of the STD program at the Allegheny County Health Department, acknowledges a lack of firm evidence linking STD trends and dating apps, so far.
But he's convinced, or at least deeply concerned, based on the growing number of patients who are coming into his program reporting higher numbers of sexual partners and more anonymous sexual partners than is typical in his 20 years on the job.
They fear this newfound openness to online dating, coupled with a waning fear of STDs and waning stigma around casual sex, could continue to fuel cases of STDs and maybe even a resurgence in HIV.
In response, there have been calls for STD warnings to be included in the apps, and after a protracted dispute with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in California, Tinder has added an STD testing site locator for users.
In Asia, the growing use of mobile dating apps by young gay men is a major factor in a new HIV epidemic among teenagers there.
And in Allegheny County, Pa., officials believe dating apps are contributing to a sharp increase in cases of STDs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis which is up 150 percent since 2009.
His patients are urged to always do so and to also limit their numbers of sexual partners while making sure to know each one's STD status and get tested themselves.
And while alarmed by the lack of sexual caution exhibited by some of his patients, Wiesenfeld is also unsure of whether the apps themselves could help change that through the introduction of programmed warnings.
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