In a move that is a definite swipe left for the short-term happiness of Tinder users, Dr. Peter Greenhouse from the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV recently warned that the dating site (and others like it) could lead to an “explosion of HIV” infections. According to a BBC interview with Greenhouse:
If enough people change partners quickly, and they’ve got other untreated sexually transmitted infections, it might just start an explosion of HIV in the heterosexual population. Apps could do that.
As much as Greenhouse’s theory is a bummer (and it is), the popularity of dating apps like Tinder and Grindr, coupled with the corresponding rise of STD infections since the services have been launched, definitely appear to support his argument. This phenomenon isn’t a new thing either: A study from New York University found that the use of Craigslist for dating, anonymous encounters, and erotic services was connected to a 15.9 percent increase in HIV cases between 1999 and 2008.
Some people have argued against blaming Tinder and other dating sites for the rise in STD infections (Justin Hancock from the Guardian wrote an especially good article outlining alternate causes like cuts to public health budgets), but no matter which factor is responsible for the increase in STD and HIV rates, there is a simple solution to the problem: safe sex. And yes, Tinder sex can still be safe sex. And yes, that sex can still be safe even when it is performed in a T.G.I.Friday’s bathroom with someone you met IRL just minutes earlier.
Notice that the solution was not quitting Tinder? Because people are going to have sex no matter what (man is a sexual being, after all). Apps like Tinder and Grindr just make accessing that sex a bit easier than trying to pick up a date on a city bus or at a poetry slam. And though dating apps like Tinder can be dangerous when used to arrange unsafe sexual encounters, we can’t turn our backs on life-changing technology just because of the possibility of danger from misuse. Otherwise, we’d still be riding donkeys everywhere, and Bill Gates would have been burned as a warlock.
So if you’re going to keep using Tinder or Grindr (and they’re apps on your telephone that make it easier for you to have consensual sex, so why the hell wouldn’t you?), make sure that you use them safely. Sure, sex might not feel quite as good with a condom, but dong warts and death feel a whole lot worse.