text size Study: Increase in STDs
Updated: Wednesday, May 27 2015, 02:01 PM EDT
(ABC News)- Increases in the rates of three major sexually transmitted diseases in Rhode Island have led local health officials to warn that high-risk behaviors could be to blame, including the use of social media to “arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters.”
Among the statistics, HIV rates have risen 33 percent, gonorrhea cases are up 30 percent and syphilis cases are up a whopping 79 percent.
“These data send a clear signal that despite the progress we have made in reducing STDs and HIV over the years, there is more work to do,” Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director designee at the Rhode Island Department of Health, said in a statement. “This trend reminds us that we cannot become complacent.”
The department, according to a written statement, found that high-risk behavior, including “using social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters, having sex without a condom, having multiple sex partners, and having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” as well as increased testing, was the likely cause for the spike in STDs. While the department was able to track STD rates from 2013 through 2014, national data is only available until 2013 and it’s unclear if STDs are going up nationally, as well.
At least one other county has seen a startling rise in STDs, and it is such a problem that health officials at the STD clinic for Salt Lake County, Utah, have started to ask about specific dating apps when meeting with patients.
Lynn Beltran, an epidemiologist at the clinic, said she’s not surprised to see a rise in STDs, given the rise of those dating apps and what she sees as changing attitudes on sexual relations.
“It’s been the perfect storm,” said Beltran. “Our attitude kind of shifted, where it became more acceptable to engage in casual sex … then to find someone in a certain mile radius.”
Beltran said she and her team ask about the dating apps to understand if patients’ partners could be at risk. She said that when websites were more popular, she and her staff would register as users to reach out to people who may have been exposed to STDs, including HIV. Now that apps are more popular, she said, it is more difficult to reach out and alert users of potential exposure.
“My staff would register as users on those on sites and go in and send them a message,” she told ABC News. “They would go on and say, ‘Can you please call me? I have some important medical information for you.'”
In her county, she said, she has seen an uptick in syphilis and gonorrhea, and many of the newly diagnosed patients say they are sexually active through dating apps.
Some HIV experts say the dating apps likely are not to blame, but instead blame a lack of funding for education and prevention.
“Don’t blame social media — this is about our failure to provide young people with comprehensive, effective sex education and access to condoms” and affordable medical care, said Anthony Hayes, managing director of public affairs and policy for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis
He also cited lack of available medications that can help stop an HIV infection after exposure.
“Until we make these crucial investments that will save lives and money, these numbers are going to keep going up,” he said.
Beltran added that the Rhode Island report does not mean people should be shamed for using dating sites, but that they should be educated on staying safe.
“I think this is the wave of the future, and we need to approach it not with a shame,” she said.
She said it will be important for health departments are able to “help people be informed and know what their risks are.”
I Want My Legacy To Be That They Know That They Screwed With The Wrong Guy — Andrew Breitbart
2 Timothy 3:1-4 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might .11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.