Rhode Island Health Officials Link Rise in STDs to Dating App Increase

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Health officials in Rhode Island are reporting a sharp increase in sexually transmitted diseases, which they say is partly due to an increase in dating apps such as Tinder.

The state's health department blamed high risk behaviors, including using social media to meet partners for casual and, in many cases, anonymous sexual encounters. Other high risk behaviors include having sex without a condom, having multiple sex partners and having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The health department also noted that increase was also due to better testing by providers.

The recent uptick in STDs in Rhode Island follows a national trend, according to the heath department. In Rhode Island alone, cases of syphilis went up nearly 80 percent between 2013-2014, while gonorrhea and HIV infections grew about 30 percent.

Dr. Amy Nunn, an associate professor of public health at Brown University, told WJAR that she isn't conviced by the correlation between hookup apps and the rise in STDs, but added the numbers are concerning.

"I think what those apps and websites have done is really expedite the process in which people can meet sexual partners," Nunn said. "But I think what it signals is that people are using those technologies and if we're thinking about prevention and treatment, then we need to be thinking about using those technologies in ways that actually help reduce transmission." 

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