From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette…
About two years ago, Harold Wiesenfeld, medical director of Allegheny County’s sexually transmitted disease and HIV program, started hearing something from some of his patients that troubled him.
“They were volunteering that many of their partners were unknown because they met them through dating apps and it was anonymous,” he said. Apps like Tinder, OkCupid and Grindr that allow people to scroll through dozens or even hundreds of photos of possible potential dates in a given area within a matter of minutes.
Most troubling, though, was that many of those patients in his private obstetrics and gynecology practice at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC believed they had contracted their STD from those anonymous partners they met on a dating app.
This occurred as Allegheny County was seeing a sharp and steady rise in cases of Gonorrhea (up 28 percent) and Chlamydia (up 35 percent) from 2006 to 2014 that concerned and worried health officials. Of even bigger concern is the rapid increase in just a few years of Syphilis, which is up 150 percent since 2009. Cases in that time jumped from 27 to 68 for the disease that can have long-term health concerns, particularly for women who want to get pregnant, and their fetus if they are pregnant.
It has become a big enough issue in Allegheny County, that in the last year, Dr. Wiesenfeld has made asking about the dating apps a standard question for his patients.
“Across the country we are in what we consider an STD epidemic, especially with Syphilis and its health implications,” Dr. Wiesenfeld said.
While some of the increase might be attributed to better screening and testing for the diseases, “many of us STD researchers are concerned with the popularity of these apps in facilitating more casual sexual encounters,” he said.