I found this article this morning and thought it was interesting to link the rise in STIs with an increased use of dating and hook up apps. I have definitely had an increase in sexual partners since using apps, and have also been aware that I may be exposed to more STIs, have others had the same thoughts?
I’d never really thought of it, but now that I have I would say that yes, I’ve definitely seen an increased number in partners (and unfortunately encountered a few STIs :s ) since the dawn of online dating and hook up apps. Technology – always causing as many problems as it solves!
I saw this article this morning, thanks for posting it @DeftRat ! Such a fascinating read! I was a bit shocked (but also not shocked lol) by the stat that only 35% of hetero men used condoms during their last casual sexual experience! Thats not heaps is it?
I thought it was interesting too that they were talking about how more testing means more of the infection is going to be seen – and this is kind of a good thing, right? The more infections we detect, the more we can clear up!
@CloakOfAsh that article was written by a well respected researcher in the area of sexual health so I would trust the data! Dating & hook up apps are definitely everywhere & we’re still learning what that means & how to best reach out to those who use them! @Mintmilano great to hear you’ve seen some STI screening messages on Grindr!
We recommend that if you’re a sexually adventurous person (10 or more sex partners in a 6 month period) we want to encourage testing every 3 months. Make it part of a routine. Doesn’t take more than 15 minutes when you don’t have any symptoms! If you have less partners than that, but still get around probably every 6-12 months is best 🙂
I would also like to add that herpes (probably one if not the most common STI) is not included when you ask to have a sexual health check, one of the reasons SO many people have herpes and don’t know they have it. You need to actually ask for it to be included when you are tested. This article is informative and awesome but I always feel disheartened because so many STIs can be spread simply from sexual contact/oral sex – not from promiscuity/multiple partners or not using a condom but from a long term partner and when using protection. Just some food for thought.
I have noticed them on Grindr too @MintMilano. Not only adverts from screening and testing services but also from the apps themselves. Hornet (another app for LGBTIQ men) has regular updates that get sent out to users about different ways of testing, prevention and also what is prominent in the community at the moment. I have seen a lot go ads concerning shigella at the moment. It’s good to know that these apps, while offering a way to connect sexually with a vast array of individuals, are also invested in the sexual health of their users.
@HoneyPot it does seem weird that seeing more infection from increased testing is a good thing. But hopefully it means that more people are being treated with less infections going untreated.
@jessica I think the reason they don’t always test for herpes is because blood tests can’t tell between the different strains, so even if you’ve just had a cold sore on your lips you’d show a positive herpes result. Which might end up causing more anxiety than necessary in some people, since there’s not that much you can do about it unless you have symptoms that could be physically checked?
might need @Nurse_Nettie to confirm that one though.
@MintMilano they can actually tell the difference between the strains i.e. whether it’s HSV 1 or 2, but it is complicated as HSV 1 (which is typically found on the mouth) can be transmitted through oral sex to the genital area. Like you said, another reason they don’t check is because a positive result is difficult for many people.
@MintMilano you’re close, but I’ll clarify: the blood test is not recommended for screening (screening is when we test when you don’t have symptoms). The blood test can tell whether you’ve been exposed to herpes type 1 and/or herpes type 2, but it doesn’t tell you where on the body you have it. People commonly think that type 1 is on the mouth and type 2 is on the genitals, but that’s not always true! More & more genital herpes is caused by herpes type 1 — mostly transmitted through oral sex.
So what do you do with the info you get from a blood test? If it’s not causing symptoms, we don’t have any treatment to offer & we also can’t tell you much about what to expect going forward. Some people will never get symptoms of herpes. If you don’t know where on the body you have it, you can’t make clear decisions about how to avoid passing it on to partners.
@jessica is right too though! Herpes is incredibly common! You don’t have to be promiscuous to get it — you don’t even have to be sexually active! Many of us will get it in childhood through non-sexual kissing.
You can significantly decrease the risk of transmission during vaginal or anal sex by using condoms, but remember, herpes is transmitted on the surface of the skin all around the genitals, bum, even upper inner thighs. Condoms don’t cover all of that which is why they’re not 100% effective. Condoms or dental dams used in oral sex can prevent transmission even better, but they’re used much less frequently.
I do wonder what would happen if we made the herpes blood test more common (it’s currently not recommended for STI screening). If more people realised they actually had it without any symptoms, would the result be less stigma or more stress?
@Nurse_Nettie thank you so much for your insightful response! I personally think it should be included in the blood test. However, if there’s a positive diagnosis I think the person needs to be properly informed (i.e. about how common it is, that with antivirals + condoms the risk of transmission can be reduced to about 1-2% etc, that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 5 men have HSV 2 and that about 70% or thereabouts of the population have HSV 1). In the long run, I think it’s best for someone who has a positive diagnoses to know about it and to be informed and educated, rather than the extreme stigma surrounding STIs like herpes to continue for the rest of time. I feel like the less informed people are the more stigma there is. Particularly with HSV 1 there is little to no stigma about having a cold sore on your mouth, but then if you have genital HSV 1 (which many people contract from oral sex before they have even had penetrative sex) there is still so much stigma despite it being the exact same thing.
Anyway, I found this article really interesting, and I’m not surprised that STIs are rising if people are engaging in unsafe sexual practices. But sometimes it is frustrating to see the rise of STIs being attributed to millennial promiscuity (not that having multiple partners is a bad thing as long as you are safe about it!) when they can be transmitted from a cheating spouse, via oral sex, even from kissing or skin to skin contact, from a partner who may not know they have one etc. STIs don’t discriminate and you can retract one from your 1st or 100th partner.
I also wonder if due to the advances in medicine that people tend to be more reactive vs. preventative. @jessica I don’t think it’s just attributed to millennials, I read an article that mentioned STIs are on the rise in retirement villages.
Interesting @NickiPower! I wonder if it’s because once you know pregnancy is no longer a risk, you forget about all the other risks?
@ElleBelle that’s a good point, and that even goes further than retirement villages. I remember a friend once telling me she was on the pill so she didn’t worry about condoms and I was just like….. !!!!!!