Rhode Is­land sees spike in STD in­fec­tions

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Adam Ruben­fire

Rates of HIV and other sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases are on the rise in Rhode Is­land, a trend the state’s health depart­ment at­tributes to bet­ter testing as well as in­creased rates of high-risk sex­ual be­hav­ior. And so­cial me­dia also could be play­ing a role.

Rhode Is­land of­fi­cials said cases of gon­or­rhea in­creased 30%, newly iden­ti­fied HIV cases grew by nearly 33%, and in­fec­tious syphilis cases were up by 79%. Men who have sex with men con­tin­ued to have the fastest-grow­ing rate of testing pos­i­tive for new cases of HIV/AIDS and syphilis, ac­cord­ing to the state, and in­fec­tion rates con­tinue to have a greater im­pact on African-Amer­i­cans, His­pan­ics and young adults.

While the health depart­ment blamed the spike in cases on high-risk sex­ual be­hav­iors that have “be­come more com­mon in re­cent years,” it also cited the use of so­cial me­dia to ar­range sex­ual en­coun­ters. Apps in­clud­ing Tin­der, Grindr and Down al­low peo­ple to pair up with strangers in their area; some use the apps to set up dates, while oth­ers use them to ar­range ca­sual sex. State health of­fi­cials say the apps fa­cil­i­tate “ca­sual and of­ten anony­mous sex­ual en­coun­ters” that put users at an in­her­ently higher risk for STD in­fec­tions.

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