Experts say dating apps contribute to rise in STDs and sexual assaults

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CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) — In some ways, dating has never been easier. With dating apps like Tinder and Grindr, Mr. or Ms. Right may be just a few clicks away, or at least Mr. or Ms. Right Now.

CMPD warns sexual assaults are on the rise when it comes to using dating apps. There have been 20 cases of sexual assault this year in Charlotte that’re linked to dating apps. That’s up from the 15 reported in 2017. Police say in one incident the victim said she was given an unknown narcotic and sexually assaulted.

“When you are using these apps, when you’re meeting individuals make sure you’re meeting them in some type of public locations,” said CMPD Lieutenant Muriel Hughes. “Make sure that before you’re alone with this person, make sure you have established some type of trust.”

Sexual assaults aren’t the only issue on the rise in the world of online dating. Health experts warn sexually transmitted diseases Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are all up dramatically across North Carolina.

There were 62,893 Chlamydia cases reported in North Carolina in 2017; that’s an increase from just over 58,000 cases in 2016. There were 22,694 Gonorrhea cases reported in 2017; that’s an increase of almost three thousand from the year before.

Some experts are pointing to the proliferation of dating apps saying it may be no coincidence they exploded in popularity at the same time infection rates spiked.

“The internet and mobile phones have changed a lot about lives,” said HIV/STD Section Director at Alameda County Health Department Nicholas Moss, “including our sex lives, and dating apps make it easier to meet sex partners.”

Many apps don’t reveal their user numbers publicly, but according to a third party website that tracks dating app trends, an estimated 3 million people actively use Grindr every day.

27 million have signed up since the company launched. Match Group, the company that owns Tinder, OK-Cupid and Plenty of Fish reported that Tinder has reached a record 3.8 million paid subscribers to date, but an eye-popping 46 million people total have used the service since its inception.

Berkeley student, Emily Fregoso says her friend went on a date, and one thing led to another. After a sexual encounter her friend came down with troubling symptoms.

“Turns out she had Gonorrhea, and it was transmitted to her,” Fregoso said.
In that case, she says the friend in question tracked down her partner who then ignored her.

“Dating apps may contribute to rising STD rates,” Moss said, “but they also give us a great opportunity reach people and educate them about making healthy sex choices.”

Some dating apps are developing their technology to notify sexual partners of the potential for exposure.

North Carolina Public Health also notes the increase in STD diagnoses among both men and women could be a result of increased testing rather than true increases in the disease.

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