In their annual sexually transmitted disease (STD) surveillance report, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported more than 2 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in 2016. For the third consecutive year, the number of cases of these three “marker” STDs has been on the rise, and public health officials are considering this epidemic a public health crisis.

Dating in the Modern World - One App at a Time

Some researchers relate the increased use of dating apps and the STDs increase. In 2013, NYU researchers published a paper linking Craigslist to a higher incidence of HIV reports.

Is there a correlation, or has the paper’s idea been accepted at face value? Studies consistently conclude with the need for more data. It’s not as cut and dried as the question suggests. These factors consistently show a correlation to a higher risk of STD:

  • Some population groups have a higher incidence of STD than others, including adolescents, young adults, men who have sex with other men (MSM), and certain ethnic groups.
  • Sex without the use of condoms.
  • Having multiple partners.

Do Dating Apps Affect Our Behavior?

Of the known STD risk factors, dating apps can only impact the number of sexual partners that one can have. Apps give users a much larger pool that might be otherwise available. Dating app users have been shown to have more sexual partners than those who don’t use them. So in this respect, there is a relationship between them and STDs, but not a causative relationship, only a correlation.

To App or Not to App

The bottom line is that responsible sexual behavior is the best way to protect yourself from STDs, dating apps aside. Communication is critical, and being honest and open with partners is the best way to stop transmission of STDs. The only way to know whether you’ve contracted an STD is to get tested by a reputable medical laboratory. Word of mouth is not enough here though, labs certified to Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) or FDA standards are the key to quality-assured results.

The CDC recommends that every sexually active adolescent and adult have a full STD screening on a regular, even annual basis.

Responsible Dating App Usage

Once you know your STD status,  your responsibility is to inform any potential sexual partner of exposure, and you should expect the same. It should be a make-it-or-break-it condition. Consider also that outside of long-term monogamous relationships, condoms are essential, even when neither partner has an STD.

Technology has affected all aspects of our lives, and dating is part of that. So far, there is no evidence that using social media and other digital technology will cause a person to start engaging in high-risk behaviors. Armed with knowledge and common sense, you can safely use dating apps and not fear STDs.

Convenient and Confidential STD Testing

So you know that testing is paramount, but you’re reluctant to talk to your family doctor about this. There are independent labs that offer convenient, confidential full STD testing and screening all across the country. Take responsibility and get tested before you go on your next date.