Tinder and STDs

“The people we meet change our lives. A friend, a date, a romance, or even a chance encounter can change someone’s life forever” says Tinder’s official website.

People don’t just swipe right or left, they actually meet up. “I actually met my girlfriend on Tinder,” said Dan Siegel, school of arts and sciences junior.

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Tinder focuses on the human desire to make new connections and 3 weeks ago, Tinder incorporated features to make these connections healthier and safer.

“Tinder has added a health safety section to its website that will include a link to Healthvana’s free HIV and STD testing site locator…” reported a press release on January 21.

You can find the link to http://www.healthvana.com/free-std-testing/ under the “know your status” section of Tinder’s website.

Healthvana is a cloud-based technology that improves communication between healthcare providers and their patients.

“Healthvana empowers people with actionable health information at their fingertips so they can make better decisions,” said Ramin Bastani, CEO of Healthvana.

Back in September last year, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) campaigned for a greater awareness of sexual health and safety on dating sites by putting up billboards and advertisements in LA and NYC, according to the press release.

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It’s essential for dating apps to help educate their users about their health and where to get services near them, just like Tinder did, said Bastani in an email statement.

Tinder has taken a step in the right direction by putting resources in people’s hands, said Dr. Francesca Maresca, director of Health Outreach Promotion and Education (H.O.P.E.) at Rutgers.

The CDC announced a significant increase in the number of reported STD cases in 2014, particularly affecting young people, the press release said.

Some concerned individuals believe that apps like Tinder and other dating sites are the cause for this increase. When accusations were made, Tinder argued that there was no scientific proof correlating the relationship with STDs and it’s software.

“Through centuries people have been able to meet up for sex, this is not a new phenomenon,” said Dr. Maresca. The opportunity for sex is increasing, but the app doesn’t suggest how people should be having the sex.

Having Healthvana and Tinder collaborate is a helpful tool, but it shouldn’t be completely necessary, said Siegel.

“Tinder could be one of the reasons that there’s an increase in STIs, but it’s a modicum. People are going to meet people anyways, the app just increases the number of people you meet,” said Siegel.

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The risk for getting an STD or an STI is not greater here or anywhere else, said Dr. Maresca. The real risk comes from not knowing the ways to practice safe sexual behaviors.

As director of H.O.P.E, Dr. Maresca speaks to hundreds of students about sexual health among other topics throughout the year.

There’s definitely a portion of students at Rutgers who don’t know enough about sexual health safety, said Dr. Maresca. Oftentimes, this is a function of what happens before they even come to college.

“Communication skills, accurate medical information and ways to prevent STIs are essential to students health,” and that’s why workshops with H.O.P.E are so important, Dr. Maresca believes.

Rutgers provides students with ample information about STIs, the recent increase in STIs is more about the individual decision making process, agrees Siegel.

www.health.rutgers.edu is a great website to check out for more information about testing locations and dates.

In a world with exuberant amounts of information, it is crucial to understand the dynamic affordances of the technology we use.

Technology is a very helpful tool when it comes to learning about STIs. “The positive side of new technology, is that we have information and resources in people’s hands immediately,” said Dr. Maresca.

However, the amount of misinformation that’s out there is dangerous. “People haven’t yet developed the health literacy that we need,” said Dr. Maresca.

Above all, it is important to have the conversation about sex health. “Talking about tinder and STIs shouldn’t be a taboo topic,” said Siegel.

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