Tinder and Grindr dating apps blamed for surge in cases of HIV, syphilis and other STDs

Health officials warn of increase in 'high-risk behaviours'

A US state has blamed what it calls an “epidemic” of sexually transmitted diseases on hook-up apps such as Tinder and Grindr.

The department of health for Rhode Island said it had experienced a marked rise from 2013 to 2014 in a number of STDs, including a 79 per cent increase in syphilis cases.

State officials said they wanted to issue an “alert to Rhode Islanders” about the issue of sexual health. Gonorrhea cases, it said, were up 30 per cent, while the number of newly-identified HIV cases increased by nearly a third.

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And while the state said better testing had contributed to the rising figures, the blame was also put on “high-risk behaviours… including using social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters”.

Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of Rhode Island’s health department, said the increasing rates of STDs “send a clear signal that despite the progress we have made over the years… there is more work to do”.

She said: “We are fortunate in Rhode Island to have great partnerships among state agencies, community-based organizations, and healthcare providers to continue to educate, test, and treat for sexually transmitted diseases. This trend reminds us that we cannot become complacent.”

Besides blaming dating apps used at least in part to arrange casual sex, health officials warned that “having sex without a condom, having multiple sex partners, and having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol” were all contributing to the problem.

Rosemary Reilly-Chammat, an Aids and HIV expert, said: “It's never too early to learn about making HIV and STD testing part of routine healthcare. Doctors and nurses are trained to discuss sensitive topics like sex, and conversations with them are confidential. Health educators at schools or community health centres are great resources too.”