Jump in STDs Could Be Due to Unknown Online Dating Partners

The increasing number of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) seen nationwide could be due to the fact that more Americans are using online and mobile dating sites where it is difficult to know who is already afflicted with STDs, an expert says.

“Public health succeeds by tracking the partner and getting that person treated,” says Dr. Peter Beilenson, CEO of Evergreen Health, reports local Fox News in Baltimore. “And with online dating and people not even knowing who the person is, if you come down with chlamydia or gonorrhea, let’s say, and you want to make sure you treat the partner, there’s no way of knowing who the partner is.”

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported significant increases in the numbers of Americans infected with STDs, including a record number infected with chlamydia. In a fact sheet provided for the 2014 data on chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, the agency warns its annual surveillance report may only reveal “a fraction of the true burden of STDs in America” since many cases go unreported.

In 2014, 1.4 million cases of chlamydia were reported – a 2.8 percent increase over the prior year, while 350,062 cases of gonorrhea were reported – an increase of 5.1 percent since 2013.

Similarly, nearly 20,000 primary and secondary syphilis cases were reported in 2014, a hike of 15.1 percent since 2013, while 458 cases of congenital syphilis were discovered and reported – a 27.5 percent increase over the prior year.

According to the CDC, most reported chlamydia and gonorrhea infections occur in people between the ages of 15 and 24 years old.

Also outstanding is the alarming increase in syphilis among gay men, 15.1 percent in 2014.

The CDC reports:

Men who have sex with men (MSM) account for 83 percent of male cases where the sex of the sex partner is known. Primary and secondary syphilis are the most infectious stages of the disease, and if not adequately treated, can lead to long-term infection which can cause visual impairment and stroke. Syphilis infection can also place a person at increased risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV infection. Available surveillance data indicate that an average of half of MSM who have syphilis are also infected with HIV.

When it comes to online or mobile dating sites, “swiping right” and not having sufficient information about the person you are meeting and perhaps about to have sex with, could be factors in the increase in STDs, states the Fox report.

Beilenson says with more Americans are turning to these dating sites, tracking STDs is more difficult.


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