“We used to think about what we can do with bathhouses and sex clubs to make sure people’s risk was reduced,” said Dan Wohlfeiler, director of Building Healthy Online Communities, a public health group that works with apps to support STI prevention.These places, after all, had become important meeting points for men who have sex with men — the group most affected by the HIV epidemic.In one study looking at the link between Craigslist personal ads and HIV, researchers at the University of Minnesota identified an increase in HIV cases in 33 states between 19 — and determined that the advent of Craigslist alone contributed to a 16 percent increase in cases.
In the past, when a person was diagnosed with a serious STD, a public health official would call or meet with his or her sexual partners to talk about getting tested and on potential treatment.
“They realize that their sites could be stigmatized for being associated with STDs.
They do as little as possible.” Just as ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have disrupted transportation — and required new regulations and cultural adaptations — dating sites have disrupted the way people have sex.
Health advocates say it’s time they acknowledge that impact — and begin to help fight the STDs they may be helping to spread.
Health officials in states around the country have linked recent STD outbreaks to the rise in internet dating.