Tinder adds STD testing site locator to dating app

(Graphics by Carolyn Duff | The DePaulia)
(Graphics by Carolyn Duff | The DePaulia)

The popular dating app Tinder just made an advance with its health safety features. Users now have access to a free HIV and STD-testing site locator. 

The app’s “Health Safety” page encourages sexually active people to maintain a current understanding of their statuses regarding sexually transmitted diseases. It says that “regular testing” is critical for staying healthy and preventing the spread of STDs. On the page, Tinder provides a link to Healthvana’s free HIV and STD-testing site locator to show local “free, quick and confidential testing options.” This could help users stay informed about their own statuses and be able to communicate about it with their partners.

With a 60614 zip code, Healthvana suggests more than a dozen locations.

Freshman Alex Haraus said the STD-testing site locator “might be something people need to use after the date.”

Tinder’s new health safety page gives other tips for beginning new relationships, such as using consistent protection, being open and honest, and vaccinate. (The website says, “the risk of contracting some STDs can be reduced through vaccination.”)

“This feature could help some people be more confident in using the app,” said junior Mehgan Perez.

The new service acts as Tinder’s latest and last move in a yearlong battle with the Los Angeles-based AIDS Health Foundation. Last fall the group launched an ad campaign linking Tinder to a dramatic increase in the spread of STDs. Tinder responded with a cease-and-desist letter. But only with the introduction of the new health safety page has the AIDS Health Foundation decided to end its campaign, which was focused in Los Angeles and New York City. The organization has started removing billboards connecting Tinder with chlamydia and gonorrhea, according to NBC.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does recognize a rise in STDs, especially in three prominent ones: chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The cases of each nationwide increased for the first time since 2006 in 2014. Rates of primary and secondary syphilis increased by 15.1 percent, gonorrhea by 5.1 percent, and chlamydia by 2.8 percent, all since 2013. However, the CDC makes no connection between this increase and mobile dating.

Tinder wrote in a statement: “While the CDC, who conducted the largest and most credible study on the topic, has never identified any connection that supports the idea that Tinder usage correlates with, let alone causes, an increase in STDs, we’re of course in favor of organizations that provide public education resources on the topic.”

“Tinder does have a rap for being a ‘pick-up’ app,” said senior Cheska Zoleta. “Now that the health safety option is there, it’s still up to people to decide who to meet.”

The CDC reports that there are about 20 million new cases of STDs each year in the United States, and about half of these are in people between the ages of 15 and 24.

With that figure in mind, freshman Julian Figueroa said that the Healthvana locator would still be “helpful for anyone” who is sexually active. Whether meeting people face-to-face or online, caution should be taken, he said.

An estimated 50 million Tinder users collectively swipe left or right over one billion times every single day. Business Insider reported that 38 percent of Tinder users are between the ages of 16 and 24 and 45 percent of Tinder users are between the ages of 25 and 34, amounting an overwhelming 83 percent of users ages 34 or younger.