Syphilis Soars 79% in RI Thanks to ... Social Media
State officials say hookup apps are partly behind uptick in STD cases
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2015 6:31 AM CDT
Updated May 30, 2015 11:03 AM CDT
A student holds up placards with symbols used on the hookup app Tinder. Such apps are being blamed on a spike in STDs in Rhode Island.   (AP Photo/Jenny Barchfield)

(Newser) – Sexually transmitted diseases are staging a comeback in Rhode Island—with syphilis leading the pack, the state Department of Health reports. While HIV is up 33% from 2013 to 2014 and gonorrhea is up 30%, syphilis skyrocketed a whopping 79%. Why the sudden uptick? Officials cite better testing, but add that hookup apps like Tinder are at least partly to blame. "High-risk behaviors include using social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters, having sex without a condom, having multiple sex partners, and having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol," the department said in a statement, adding that gay and bisexual men, African Americans, Hispanics, and young adults are the most affected by these growing rates.

"These data send a clear signal that despite the progress we have made in reducing STDs and HIV over the years, there is more work to do," one official tells the East Greenwich Patch. Rhode Island officials say the stats are reflective of a national trend. A study from 2013 out of New York University blamed Craigslist for a 16% increase in HIV cases between 1999 and 2008 across much of the country, while the hookup app Grindr, which is primarily used by gay men, was blamed on playing a role in at least half of all syphilis cases in New Zealand in 2012, reports Fox News. (Syphilis, nearly eliminated in 2000, has increased sharply across the country, but among one group in particular.)