From 2014 to 2015 alone, the number of syphilis cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rose by 17.7%, from 63,453 to 74,702.
Along with cuts in STD prevention and treatment resources and possibly more relaxed attitudes toward protection since the advent of life-saving HIV treatments, health experts think the influence of social media on how people meet sex partners may play a role in the upswing.“The way our society is forming partners is now through using a lot of social media, and that is affecting the sexual transmission dynamics we are seeing,” said Gail Bolan, the director of the Division of STD Prevention at the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
Hsu said this “on-the-ground” approach has encountered significant challenges in today’s world of dating apps.
Before, when “an individual had (primary stage syphilis) and they knew the ...
It has a “Safety Tips” section under the app’s “Settings" that discusses protection measures such as using a condom, and features a link to a CDC website with information on getting tested.
The company did not respond to a request for comment.
On top of that, “tremendous cuts are being projected by the current administration,” Hsu said.
Grindr, a gay dating app with 3 million daily active users, has a "Sexual Health” section on each user’s profile where the user can list HIV status and the last time they were tested.
Syphilis, a disease most people associate with the past, has returned with a roar, and public health experts think the rise in rates can be attributed at least partly to social media.
Infection rates are the highest they have been in 20 years, said David Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors.
It is important for dating apps to promote STD awareness and prevention, says Philip Chan, the director of the HIV/STD Testing and Prevention Services at the Miriam Hospital Immunology Center in Rhode Island.
Gay dating apps in particular are starting to do more of this, he said.“The majority of (syphilis) cases are among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men,” Chan said.