Charlie Sheen may have just put HIV back in the headlines, but the disease is actually not the biggest sexual health threat out there.
According to the CDC, more Americans contracted chlamydia last year than at any point in history, and gonorrhea and syphilis are spreading like wildfire.
There are more than 1.4 million cases of chlamydia — the highest number of any sexually transmitted disease that the agency has ever seen — 20,000 cases of syphilis, and more than 350,000 cases of gonorrhea.
Young people, particularly women and gay and bisexual men, were more likely to be diagnosed. The CDC estimates that half of the 20 million new STDs that occur each year are among people ages of 15 and 24.
So ... what gives? Are kids not paying attention in health class these days? Did they just stop caring?
Well, like most complicated issues, it's likely a combination of many factors. For instance, it could have something to do with the rise of PrEP (or Truvada), a daily pill, which protects people against HIV infection. Early studies of PrEP showed no evidence that those who took the drug were less likely to use condoms, reports Slate. But recent surveys suggest that at least some PrEP users do actually use condoms less frequently once on the pill.
And then there's a doctor in the UK that believes that dating apps are to blame for the recent spike in STIs.
Dr. Peter Greenhouse, one of the UK's leading sexual health doctors, told the BBC, "You are able to turn over partners more quickly with a dating app and the quicker you change partners the more likely you are to get infections." He's worried that this could eventually increase the rate of HIV infections, too.
But, of course, the people running the dating apps don't believe apps are to blame.
Marie Cosnard, head of trends at Happn, one of the UK's most popular dating apps, believes the culprit is people's changing attitude towards sex — and that apps are following that trend.
"There's a liberalisation of attitudes towards the number of partners, the status of relationships, towards marriage, divorce, etc.," she told the BBC. "So the rise of any STI is not really connected to dating apps themselves. The problem is much wider."
Cosnard believes that people just need to be more educated about sexual health. But since dating apps make sex so accessible — with a simple swipe — maybe they should be putting some of their resources into educating their users about safe sex.
Just an idea.
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