Social media blamed for rise in STD cases

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The rising number of new cases of gonorrhoea, syphilis, and HIV in Rhode Island can be partly attributed to social media, said the state health department.

This comes as more people turn to their mobile phones to find “casual and often anonymous sexual encounters.”

“This trend reminds us that we cannot become complacent,” said Dr Nicole Alexander-Scott, Rhode Island Department of Health director designee, in a release.

“Despite the progress we have made in reducing STDs [sexually transmitted diseases] and HIV over the years, there is more work to do.”

The health department revealed that gonorrhoea cases climbed by 30 per cent from 2013 to 2014, syphilis rose by 79 per cent, and HIV jumped by almost 33 per cent.

New cases of these diseases, which increased faster among men who had sex with other men, had a greater impact on Hispanics, African-Americans, and young people.

This is not the first time that social media and apps have been blamed for increases or outbreaks of sexually transmitted diseases.

In writing about Craigslist in 2013, researchers at New York University noted that the ease of finding sex partners via classified ad sites promotes risky behaviour and increases the transmission of STDs.

A syphilis outbreak in 2012 in New Zealand was blamed on the Grindr app, whilst spikes in syphilis and gonorrhoea in the United Kingdom have been linked to similar apps.

“Thanks to Grindr or Tinder, you can acquire chlamydia in five minutes,” said Peter Greenhouse of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV.


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