Tinder is one of the biggest apps on the market right now, with the ability to swipe left and right to find just the right match for you. However, Tinder is not known as a dating app, but more of a sex app, meant to find you a partner for a quick sexual escapade. This isn’t a West Coast or East Coast trend either, Tinder and other hookup apps are becoming the “it” thing across the country, and even older people are starting to get in on the action.
While younger people might find Tinder and other similar apps like Grindr to be fun and easy, literally, doctors and health officials are warning that these apps come with a lot of health risks. The Rhode Island Department of Health recently announced that rates of sexually transmitted diseases has risen quite drastically over the past year, and officials are pointing directly at these casual hookup apps as the reason why. It’s not just Rhode Island either, because throughout America the number of sexually transmitted diseases is going up, especially with diseases like HPV and syphilis. Syphilis cases increased by 79 percent from 2013 to 2014, and gonorrhea cases have also ticked up by 30 percent. Some of the increases in cases of sexually transmitted diseases can be attributed to better health screenings for the diseases, with health care providers being more aware of the at-risk behavior some patients might be engaging in and deciding to test them before being asked.
Back in the day, meaning a few years ago, Craigslist was actually the avenue people would go to find some quick sex, using “Casual Encounters” to hookup with people halfway local. Most of the hookups on Craigslist have since died down due to negative press over robberies and beatings, as well as a few murders, but there are still some people using this avenue as well. Craigslist ended up being blamed for a 16 percent increase in HIV cases between 1999 and 2008, which actually spanned across 33 states. In New Zealand, more than half of the syphilis cases ended up being transmitted by men who used the app Grindr, according to the Christchurch Sexual Health Clinic in 2012. If you are unsure of what Grindr is, it’s basically the homosexual version of Tinder, with a lot of gay men using the website to have casual sex with one another, and often times protection is not used by the men engaging in these acts.
In terms of what this study means, it means that doctors and other health officials really need to step it up in terms of talking to their younger patients about the risks associated with online hookup apps like Tinder. More people need to become aware about sexual health and responsibility before they become of an age where using apps like Tinder or Grindr would cross their minds. School educators and community health centers also need to start talking to people, especially the younger people, about the risks of having sex with random strangers that you found while swiping an app. While it seems like common sense, apparently people are forgetting that just because someone looks nice and there are no visible signs or symptoms of a disease, it does not mean one isn’t there. With diseases like HPV, men and women often carry the disease without knowing it or without having had warts on themselves, which means it can be considered a silently transmitted disease.
It can be fun and cool to use apps like Tinder if you are bored and lonely one summer night, but people need to remember that these are random strangers and certain precautions need to still be taken to be protected from sexually transmitted diseases. The health officials and doctors are warning anyone using the hookup apps to just be responsible and smart about your health, and use condoms to keep yourself protected while you engage in one of the hottest trends of the year.