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“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.
In the UK, the National Health Service is pushing major networks like Tinder and Grindr to advertise places that provide free (or affordable) condoms because of the role they’re playing the rise of sexually transmitted diseases among young men who have sex with men.
CCO of Whiplr, Daniel Sevitt, said they wanted to create an app for the kink community that would provide "a safe and welcome environment for the kink curious to begin their journey" and hopes the app will show that being kinky is "not something underground." The free version of the app allows you to search, message, voice call, and video chat, and the paid subscription, Dekadom, gives you access to all the other features as well.
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.
“If you’re going to hook up, protect yourself and your partner ...
Today, the public health focus has shifted to “digital bathhouses." Wohlfeiler said, “Now that dating sites and apps have become so common, we know we need to work with them." There’s just one problem: Many of the major dating networks don’t want to be involved in STD prevention, nor have they acknowledged the impact they’re having on public health.
“They are hesitant to support sexual health,” said Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine and STD researcher at UCLA.
But health experts increasingly view apps and sites such as Tinder, Grindr, and Ok Cupid as enablers of high-risk sex, helping people meet and hook up more efficiently than ever before.
The impact of these sites is so profound they are also transforming the way health officials track and prevent outbreaks.
“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.