Leading sexual health experts have attributed record cases of sexually transmitted infections to the “explosion” in popularity of dating apps such as Hinge and Bumble.
Last week, officials called the rising cases of diseases such as chlamydia and syphilis plaguing the United States an “out of control” epidemic.
The warning came after the release of the latest CDC data showing 2.5 million STI cases were detected in 2022, marking a rise in chlamydia and, more worryingly, potentially syphilis. mortal.
The prevalence of the infection, which can damage the brain and heart, has soared nearly 80 percent in five years.
The shocking figures have sparked fierce debate among the medical community about the cause of this alarming situation.
Some, for example, have pointed to the staggering drop in condom use among American men: nearly 30 percent since 2011, according to some studies.
This graph shows how syphilis cases are rising again in the US and are now at their highest level since the 1950s.
And doctors have intriguing theories about why that is.
Now, some of the US’s leading sexual health experts have told DailyMail.com their fascinating explanations for the rise in infections.
The endless Covid ‘hangover’ and the digital dating revolution are just two of the many reasons…
SYPHILIS USED TO MAINLY AFFECT GAY MEN; THEN CAME THE DATING APPS…
In 2000, syphilis was on the verge of eradication with an all-time low of 5,979 cases per year in the United States.
In 2022 there were 207,000 diagnoses, according to official data.
A decade ago, experts say the infections – which are spread through contact with a syphilitic sore, which usually forms on the genitals – occurred almost all among gay or bisexual men.
But there was a sudden “change” in 2013, when cases began to rise among heterosexual women and men.
Experts say much of this can be explained by the growing popularity of dating apps among straight people, such as Tinder, which launched in 2012.
Grindr, a dating app used by gay men, was launched in 2009, when cases of syphilis among men who have sex with men began to gradually increase.
Experts suggest that the apps expanded access to sexual partners, as Americans no longer had to rely on meeting potential suitors in person.
Dr Joseph Cherabie, a sexual health expert in St Louis, Missouri, told DailyMail.com: “The way we date, meet people and socialize has become much easier with the advent of dating apps, So that plays an important role.” .
“Suddenly you have a lot of potential mates at your fingertips, so I think that could definitely play a role.”
writing in the Journal of sexually transmitted diseases In 2018, researchers commented that the apps have also been linked to an increase in fluid sexuality, meaning that infections can be transmitted from different groups of partners.
This graph shows that 29 percent of total syphilis infections are now detected in gay men, compared to nearly 90 percent in the early 2000s.
The researchers, including Dr. Elizabeth Torrone of the CDC, said: “One hypothesis for the increased rates among heterosexual populations is increased mixing between sexual networks.”
“Increasing numbers of men who have sex with both men and women serve as ‘bridges’ between gay men and heterosexual networks.”
Covid could also have played a role, experts said, as an increase in sexual activity after lockdowns led to greater transmission.
THE COVID ‘HANGOVER’ CONTINUES
The sudden return to socializing after the pandemic has led to an increase in promiscuous sexual behavior, experts say.
Americans are spending more intimate moments together to “make up for lost time.”
And the monkeypox outbreak hit the US in 2022, which was linked to sexual activity at LGBT events, with more than 30,000 cases diagnosed in the US to date.
Dr Monica Gandhi, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told DailyMail.com: ‘We initially had reduced rates of STDs in this country after the lockdowns.
‘But there was also less testing and then there was a very clear recovery.
‘Testing and treatment rates fell, fueling an epidemic.
“Once the Covid lockdowns were over, that led to a let’s get back to normal attitude and maybe some sort of celebratory atmosphere, including having more sex.”
He added: “It’s just not natural to tell people to stay away from each other, so I think a lot of that response was compensatory.”
THE USE OF IV DRUGS FIVEN IN 7 YEARS
The opioid crisis in the United States has reached record levels and an estimated 106,000 people die from overdoses each month.
Since 2011, the number of people who inject drugs in the United States has risen to at least three million, according to government data.
Doctors say these people are more likely to engage in risky sexual activities, which could be to get food or medicine.
They may also be reusing needles and other equipment that could have been contaminated with syphilis.
The CDC reported a link between an increase in syphilis cases and methamphetamine use in 2019.
Experts found that between 2013 and 2017, the rate of syphilis cases in heterosexual men and women who also used methamphetamine or injection drugs more than doubled.
Drugs were also implicated in another rise in syphilis in the 1990s, which experts said was linked to increases in crack use.
The decline in condom use may also be behind the increase
FEWER GAY MEN USE CONDOMS
Condoms have been around for decades in one form or another as a way to prevent pregnancy and, more recently, stop sexually transmitted diseases.
But in recent years they have fallen out of favor with younger groups.
CDC data shows that between 2011 and 2021, condom use fell from 75 percent of men studied to 42 percent.
Dr Cherabie says one possible reason for this could be the advent of highly effective HIV prevention treatments, such as PrEP, which dramatically reduces the chances of contracting HIV.
The medications have led to a more “relaxed” attitude toward condom use among men who have sex with men, he adds.
But doctors warn that removing this barrier is facilitating the spread of other sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis.
It’s not entirely clear why condom use has declined among heterosexual people. However, some experts have suggested a reduction in resources for sex education, and the growing unpopularity of the method could be to blame.