Are dating apps encouraging casual sex?

Dating apps are definitely making it easier to arrange casual sex, but whether they are encouraging it is a more difficult question to answer.

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Changes in social attitudes also have their part to play and it is not clear whether Tinder, Grindr and the rest of the dating apps caused this revolution or are simply a reflection of it; however, there is no confusion about the results of people’s changing sexual behaviour and – particularly amongst younger people – the increasing acceptance of casual sex.

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There has been a massive increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to the extent that the STI clinics are struggling to cope with the huge rise in people wanting treatment.

Serious STIs on the rise

Some of the more serious STIs, such as syphilis, are rising dramatically. In Wales, for example, syphilis cases went up by 53 per cent in a year. Across the UK, it is the same story.

Medics specialising in this area have two concerns about dating apps being increasingly used on mobiles to arrange hook-ups. The first is that they are encouraging casual sex; the second is that it is much harder to find people’s former partners and warn them that they need to get checked. This means the partners are in turn infecting other people.

Self-testing is easy in London

When it comes to an STI test London is one of the easiest places to obtain a self-test kit from an organisation such as https://www.checkurself.org.uk/plus, which means you don’t have to talk to your GP or queue up at the STI clinic. If your test is positive and you are worried about going to the STI clinic, the NHS provides some very reassuring information on what to expect. (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/visiting-an-sti-clinic/)

15- to 24-year-olds most at risk

The highest number of new STI cases is in 15- to 25-year-olds. The anonymity of dating apps makes it difficult to trace partners; however, another factor is that STI clinics are struggling to meet the demands for their services. The lack of staff means that the outreach work – where they try to trace partners and alert them to the fact they may have an STI – is suffering.

The understaffing of STI clinics will have to be resolved by further government funds to meet the challenge of rising STI infections.

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