In this day and age, dating apps such as Tinder, Grindr, OkCupid and many others are available at your fingertips. A single swipe to the right later and you can be meeting face-to-face with someone whose bio mentioned they love long walks on the beach and to “Netflix and chill.” Yet while there is very little information to go off of, you decide to meet up with this person and see where it goes from there. However this encounter plays, it’s ultimate goal is often to lead to a night of simple, casual sex. By having sex with a stranger, one’s risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is much higher. While dating apps are, in some part, to blame for rising STD rates, a lack of sexual health and education are the major causes for the increase in STD transmission rates seen today.
With an increase in the popularity of dating apps over the past few years, the LA Times states that the use of online dating is being blamed for an increase in the rise of STD rates. Seeing as online dating is becoming very accessible, it is leading to more hookups among 25-year-olds and younger, who are also the least likely to seek testing for STDs. Though this demographic makes up a small portion of the sexually active population in the U.S., they account for some of the highest rates of STDs.
Among some of the reasons for being reluctant to seek testing are the lack of knowing when, where and how to get tested and feeling embarrassed to do so. Today, there is still a stigma when it comes to talking about sex. Parents won’t allow schools to even mention the word in the classroom and “the talk” tends to be fifty shades of uncomfortable for both the parent(s) and the kid, further instilling in them that sex is a taboo topic and is to be rarely mentioned.
In order to remedy the rising statistics, we as a society need to talk openly about sexual health and education, so that we can teach our children that it’s a normal part of life. Take for example how sex education is taught in the Netherlands, where by law, all primary school students … must receive some form of sexuality education.
By beginning to teach children at a young age about sex and all of its other components, children are taught the respect and responsibility that accompanies a healthy sex life, thus helping to prevent the infection and spread of STDs. As a result of this comprehensive sex education, the World Bank has found that the Netherlands has one of the lowest HIV and STD transmission rates in the world. Starting sex education at an early age and talking openly about the topic also promotes the ability to be a better communicator when it comes to having sex, which can help prevent the transmission of STDs.
While casual sex is fun and compelling, it’s important to keep in mind that everything you read or see online isn’t always what it appears to be. It may appear that a casual online hookup doesn’t require a lot of effort, but the well-being of a person may rely on the information given beforehand. That is, if you contract an STD from that encounter, you’ll wish you would have known that person was infected beforehand. So, while dating apps do increase the spread of STDs, it is ultimately people who should be held accountable for the spread of STDs. If sexual education were to be taught early on, it would help minimize the transmission of STDs.