Doctors: If You Use Hook-Up Apps, Your Health May Be at Risk

Tinder now offers free testing for sexually transmitted infections to users.

Earlier this year, Tinder came under scrutiny for enabling the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STI). In fact, I was critical of Tinder and called for it to consider opportunities to inform its at-risk users of the dangers of anonymous sexual activity before engaging in it. This week, Tinder announced, with support of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), a partnership with Healthvana to offer free STI testing information to Tinder users. Tinder currently reports that 1.4 billion swipes occur each day on the app, resulting in 26 million matches daily.

"I think the collaboration is going to make an impact on millions of lives," Healthvana CEO Ramin Bastani told the Daily Dot in an interview. "I think it's fantastic that Tinder wants to educate its user-base with health information, specifically sexual health information." The additional feature to the Tinder app allows users to find testing sites near them and read reviews of those sites. The hope is that users will then feel more encouraged to get tested.

“Tinder is proud to empower millions of users to create relationships,” said Dr. Jessica Carbino, lead sociologist at Tinder. “An important aspect of any healthy relationship — whether formed on Tinder or otherwise — is ensuring sexual health and safety. We’d be delighted to see other major social networks follow in our footsteps in educating the public.”

The World Health Organization estimates globally:

  • More than 1 million people acquire a sexually transmitted infection every day.
  • Each year, an estimated 357 million people become ill with one of four STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.
  • More than 530 million people have the virus that causes genital herpes (HSV2).
  • More than 290 million women have a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
  • In the United States alone, the Center for Disease Control estimates nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year, half among people ages 15–24, accounting for almost $16 billion in health care costs.

    Justin Garcia, a research scientist at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, argues that two major transitions in human sexual mating patterns have occurred in the last 4 million years. “The first was around 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, in the agricultural revolution, when we became less migratory and more settled,” he says. “And the second major transition is with the rise of the Internet. It’s changing so much about the way we act both romantically and sexually. It is unprecedented from an evolutionary standpoint.”

    "[Dating apps] have essentially amplified our ability to connect," Bastani said in his interview with Daily Dot. "And that same amplification can very well lead to the rise of infection." As I mentioned in my previous post, while there isn’t a strong correlation between the increase in STIs and social media apps like Tinder, it is laudable that Tinder is taking this step. It has also added a health safety section to its website where the company encourages users to get tested.

    “The CDC recently reported that sexually transmitted diseases increased dramatically in 2014. We are unfortunately now waging an uphill battle on this front. The CDC also noted the majority of these infections are affecting young people — the demographic that is on their mobile phones all day long,” said Whitney Engeran Cordova, senior director of the Public Health Division for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “This is why it is such welcome news that Tinder will add a Health Safety section with a link to Healthvana, making it easier for people to find testing locations through an easily accessible, modern platform. And we hope to see other dating sites do the same.”

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