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.