Hawaii health officials blame increase in state’s STIs on online dating
Health officials in Hawaii blame online dating for the surge in sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Hawaii is under siege by STIs, with syphilis rates quintupled, gonorrhea rates have doubled and chlamydia has risen 56% from the last decade, according to CDC data released last week.
The increases in Aloha state are consistent with increases across the United States, which are of growing concern to U.S. health officials.
Gerald Hasty, program coordinator for Hawaii Department of Health Harm Reduction Services, said the high rate of the three STIs was “not surprising” because online dating adds to the risk that people are exhibited without “any idea”.
Dating apps and sites could encourage people to have more sex with more partners whose sexual history they don’t know, fueling the STI surge in Hawaii, officials there said.
“As people rely on digital means to make connections, this can lead to circumstances where they might be more exposed to infection and not know it,” Dr Hasty told The Star Advertiser.
“More partners, more chances of contracting infections.”
In 2018, Hawaii reported 7,735 cases of chlamydia, placing its infection rate just above the national average.
With just under 1,500 cases of gonorrhea, the rate of common STIs in Hawaii was quite low compared to the rest of the country, but was still twice as high as the previous one compared to the previous decade.
Despite the fact that the state had only reported 92 cases of syphilis, this was several times more than in 2008.
And syphilis is of particular concern to public health officials this year, as they have noted an alarming rate of the congenital form of infection this year, the CDC said last week.
When the disease is left untreated, it can be passed from an infected mother to her baby.
While syphilis is very curable in adults if caught on time, it can cause heart and brain damage if left untreated and if a fetus is exposed to infection from its mother, syphilis increases the rate of infection. risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or death soon after birth.
These three common illnesses have been on the rise in the United States, hitting new records year after year.
“The fact that they are all increasing is not desirable, but neither is it unexpected,” said Dr Hasty.
Transmissions are more common in young adults – those in their early twenties, says Dr. Hasty – who tend to be more sexually active than younger or older people.
But in recent years, some worrying trends have emerged among these young people.
On the one hand, the majority of Americans between the ages of 15 and 25 say they have never been tested for STIs.
“This paves the way for the spread of infections,” Dr. Hasty said.
Despite ignorance of their status, rates of condom use are declining.
Sales of prophylactic products have slowed and in 2017, only about a third of sexually active men and women in the United States report consistently using condoms.
Teens have less sex, but public health experts believe young adults can have sex with more partners.
Grindr is well-known as an app that fuels the “connection culture” in the gay community, and Tinder is a close analogue for the larger dating pool.
Last year, Grindr worked on a feature that would make it easier for users to notify their partners through the app if they tested positive for an STI, Mashable reported.
But if more sexually active Americans don’t start getting tested first and using protection second, notifications will only go so far as to stem rising STI rates.