Be careful, Tinder users — the popular dating app may be harmful for your health. No, it's nothing to do with lost sleep from staying up swiping profiles left and right. It's not because you could potentially meet someone dangerous or get into an abusive relationship after realizing this person wasn't who you thought they were.
When it comes to Tinder, it's all about sex — well, your sexual health. The hookup app has a role in the unhealthy consequence of hooking up with multiple partners — STDs.
According to Rhode Island's Department of Health, the numbers for STDs rose drastically between 2013 and 2014. Syphilis cases increased by 79 percent, newly identified HIV infections increased by 33 percent, gonorrhea cases increased by 30 percent — and it's mostly young adults (along with African-Americans and Hispanics) who are becoming infected at these higher rates.
So what could cause the sudden spike in STD cases among young adults? Looking into the behaviors of this demographic, it's easy to make the connection between the common use of dating apps like Tinder, which can lead to more casual sexual hookups.
"This increase has been attributed to better testing by providers and to high-risk behaviors that have become more common in recent years," the health department wrote in a press release. Such behaviors include "using social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters."
This is not the first time online dating has been linked to the rise in STDs. In 2012, a New Zealand study found that the popular gay dating app Grindr was to blame for the rise in syphilis cases. Syphilis cases also doubled in Onondaga County, New York, from 2012 to 2013.
A 2013 New York University study named Craigslist as the culprit for an almost 16 percent increase in HIV cases in 33 states from the years 1999 to 2008.
"These new data underscore the importance of encouraging young people to begin talking to a doctor, nurse, or health educator about sexual health before becoming sexually active and especially after becoming sexually active," said Rosemary Reilly-Chammat, EdD, RIDE HIV/AIDS Sexuality Specialist in a press release.
Just remember that the dating apps aren't fully to blame. Even though these apps promote risky behavior and could make it easier to find a sexual partner, it's up to the user to practice safe sex.
Photo: Michael Coghlan | Flickr