LOS ANGELES (September 18, 2015) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) released its latest billboard campaign in Los Angeles this week to draw attention to rising STD rates over a time period that corresponds with the growing popularity of dating or “hookup” mobile phone apps. In addition to a lengthy September Vanity Fair article entitled “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse’” that explored the role mobile dating apps are increasingly playing in encouraging casual sex among young adults, the Rhode Island Department of Health reported in May that cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and HIV sharply rose between 2013 and 2014 and said that high-risk behaviors such as “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” have become more common in recent years. According to a study by Beymer et al. (2014), gay men who are meeting on location-based dating apps are at greater risk for gonorrhea and chlamydia than those who meet in-person or on the internet.
“Mobile dating apps are rapidly altering the sexual landscape by making casual sex as easily available as ordering a pizza,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director, Public Health Division for AHF. “In many ways, location-based mobile dating apps are becoming a digital bathhouse for millennials wherein the next sexual encounter can literally just be a few feet away—as well as the next STD. While these sexual encounters are often intentionally brief or even anonymous, sexually transmitted diseases can have lasting effects on an individual’s personal health and can certainly create epidemics in communities at large. We want to remind sexually active adults—especially young people—how easy it can be to contract an STD and the importance of undergoing regular screenings to protect their sexual health.”
AHF’s billboard campaign incorporates two of the most popular mobile dating apps, Tinder and Grindr, and attempts to remind users of the inherent STD risks of both heterosexual and homosexual casual sexual encounters. Tinder, which was released in September 2012 on college campuses, is the #1 Lifestyle app in both the iOS and Google Play app stores. The company stated in May 2015 that “the single largest age group on Tinder, making up more than half of our entire user base, is 18-24.” According to research firm GlobalWebIndex, the app is being used largely in urban locations (76%) like Los Angeles. Launched in 2009, Grindr is the most popular gay male location-based mobile app with over 10 million user downloads and over 2 million daily active users in 192 countries.
AHF’s Wellness Centers provide free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. To find the nearest location for STD screening and treatment, visit www.freestdcheck.org