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“I don’t think they feel it’s their responsibility," Weinstein said.
He and others would like to see online networks engaged in data collection on STDs, partner notification, condom promotion, and distributing information about self-testing and STDs.
In 2015, health officials in Rhode Island released data showing a dramatic spike in cases of syphilis (79 percent), gonorrhea (30 percent), and HIV (33 percent) in the previous year.
The uptick, they said, wasn’t an outlier — it was part of a national trend.
“It may not be that the technology is increasing the risk, but rather there’s this selection effect for people who are more sexually active who tend to use the apps,” he explained.His group, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has put up billboards and bus ads showing silhouettes of people kissing with the names of dating apps (Tinder and Grindr) and STDs, in the hopes of sending the message that encounters originating online can lead to infections.Tinder responded with a cease-and-desist order, but settled with the foundation in January 2016 after agreeing to add a health safety section to its website.“Because these are closed pools of people in limited geographies [using dating apps], it means that infections can spread more easily,” he said.“That’s why we call apps a ‘digital bathhouse.’” That’s also why public health officials are so eager to work with apps, to get them to add warnings and sexual health messages where users are convening — on the apps themselves.
Health officials in states around the country have linked recent STD outbreaks to the rise in internet dating.