Unlike other dating websites and apps that match people based on compatibility and interests, Tinder simply bases the user's attraction to others on physical appearance alone. Health officials in states across the country have linked recent STD outbreaks to the increase in Internet dating. Health advocates say it's time to recognize that impact and start helping combat STDs that could be helping to transmit. Just as transportation apps such as Uber and Lyft have disrupted transportation and have required new regulations and cultural adaptations, dating sites have altered the way people have sex.
The Center is an educational entity that exists to provide girls, young women, transgender and non-binary youth, and intersex youth with carefully researched health information, health education programs and community spaces. Meeting someone on Tinder doesn't automatically increase your risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases; however, having casual sex with someone you barely know, whether you meet them through an app, website or in person, can definitely increase your risk of becoming infected with a sexually transmitted disease. In the past, when a person was diagnosed with a serious STI, a public health official would call or meet with their sexual partners to discuss how to get tested and about possible treatment. He and others would like online networks to be dedicated to collecting data on STDs, notifying couples, promoting condoms, and distributing information on self-tests and STDs.
Health experts see online dating as the new frontier for STD prevention, but major sites don't want to get involved. In California, Klausner said, the state health department is increasingly hearing that people with STDs met their partners on sites like Grindr. As health experts learn more about the links between the high-risk behaviors allowed by dating apps and STI outbreaks, they discover that apps make it difficult to follow up on cases. And while some of the new cases could be attributed to better testing, authorities said for the first time that rates of STDs were increasing due to certain high-risk behaviors, such as the use of online dating sites “to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters.” However, with more anonymous sexual encounters, epidemiologists may not be able to locate people's partners or notify them that they may have an STD, Auerbach said.
Antón Castellanos Usigli, a public health professional from New York, created a Grindr profile to contact at-risk patients about STD-prevention services at a Brooklyn clinic. According to The Guardian, within a year it was able to attract more than 100 new patients for STI testing or counseling, after failing to fully attract anyone through the more traditional means of outreach in nightclubs. Daddyhunt, another dating site for gay men, worked with Wohlfeiler's Building Healthy Online Communities to create five public service announcements about PrEP, STI testing and condoms that appear when users are online.