3 March 2016
by Madhumita Murgia
Tinder users are twice as likely to have a sexually transmitted infection as those not on the app, research has found.
The study, conducted by British online pharmaceutical company Medexpress, surveyed 2,899 UK-based sexually active adults, asking them if they had had an STI, and if yes, which ones.
Over three-quarters of the Tinder users disclosed they had had one, while only 38 per cent of non-users admitted to it. The most common STI contracted by Tinder users was the highly contagious genital warts, followed by herpes and chlamydia. For those who did not use Tinder, pubic lice made it into the top 3 most frequently contracted diseases.
Tinder users also claimed that they had contracted gonorrhoea and Trichomaniasis, a parasitic disease that is difficult to diagnose.
This isn’t the first time Tinder has been blamed for increased STI levels – the Department of Health in the US state of Rhode island complained that cases of syphilis grew by 79 per cent between 2013 and 2014, alongside a 30 per cent increase in gonorrhea infections and a 33 per cent rise in HIV cases.
The officials claimed this reflected a spike in STIs across the US, blaming the use of “social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters.”
In the UK, Dr Peter Greenhouse, from the British Association for Sexual Health, claimed that apps like Tinder could cause an “explosion” of HIV, if users weren’t more careful.
Tinder is estimated to have 50 million people using it every month, and the UK has its second-largest user base so this is admittedly a small sample size. This type of study also relies on people telling the truth about sensitive topics including sexual behaviour, and those on Tinder may tend to be more truthful or open about such encounters, than those who are not.
Tinder has fought back against these allegations, but acknowledged them by adding a health and safety section and linking to an STI testing locator within its app.
The Match Group, owner of Tinder and Match.com, is facing more serious PR problems in the UK. A British man, Jason Lawrance, 50, has been convicted of raping or assaulting seven women he met through Match.com, Britain’s most popular dating site. He told the jury: “That’s what Match.com is like. People meet and have casual sex, then depart. That’s how it is.”
Tinder did not immediately respond to request for comment.