Online hookups blamed for STD increase

The speedy world of online dating may one of the reasons behind an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

“[With online dating], you don’t have to spend a week in a bar to find somebody you’re comfortable with. People are doing it online and they’re doing it faster,” St. Louis Health Director Pam Walker recently told CBS News.


“[Say you have] two people who know they are HIV positive feel like they can have sex without a condom, because they’re already infected. [But] what they are [really] doing is giving each other syphilis.”


To be sure, syphilis is up 46%, gonorrhea is up 31% and chlamydia is up 3% in St. Louis. Yet, Walker claims the upsurges aren’t linked to any cutbacks in health department spending.


“I have not cut communicable disease control in the five years that I’ve been director,” Walker said.


Walker hasn’t suggested funding increases yet, but does point out that reducing STDs could be an expensive public policy issue.


“If I put 20 disease investigators in the field and they followed those 55 people around who have syphilis, could I probably get rid of it?” Walker asked. “Yeah, but that would cost about $400,000.”


As such, Walker is asking for help from private providers and community clinics so that she can find the sex partners of people with known sexual diseases. She references a new law in her state, the Expedited Partner Therapy law, which allows clinics to distribute enough antibiotics to a known carrier of gonorrhea, chlamydia or syphilis so that her or she can treat their sexual partners.


“If you have gonorrhea, then your partner probably has gonorrhea,” Walker said. “I need to talk to that partner and find out if they have three other partners, or we never break the chain.”


Walker is most concerned with the increase in chlamydia because it shows no symptoms, and if women don’t treat it, it can make them infertile. Due to information from the CDC, Walker estimates that one in three women in her city may have chlamydia.

So when it comes to online, slow and steady is still the way to go. If you care about your health that is.