TIME Infectious Disease

Hookup Apps May Be to Blame for Rhode Island’s Spike in STDs

Social media and hookup sites are contributing to the "epidemic"

Rhode Island is currently experiencing what health experts are calling an “epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases” — and hookup apps may be partially to blame, officials said.

From 2013 to 2014, infections of syphilis increased 79%, gonorrhea cases went up 30% and new HIV cases increased by about 33%, according to data released by the Rhode Island department of health.

The agency noted that the uptick could be sparked by better medical testing and more people having their STDs checked out and reported. However, the agency also acknowledged the role of high-risk behaviors, including “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 agency wrote in a health alert.

Overall, the rates of HIV/AIDS and syphilis transmission were greater among populations of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. The rates of all STDs in the state were also higher among African-American, Hispanic and young adult populations, the agency reported.

The health department said the uptick is indicative of a national increase in STDs.


Interactive Maps: See Where 4 STDs Are Most Rampant

Scroll over each state to see the rates of STDs per 100k people

Earlier this year, the CDC released a report on STDs in the U.S. that showed slight increases in nearly all strains.

The yearly report provides only a snapshot of the numbers, since many cases of STDs covered in the report like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis go unreported. Among all three STDs, only congenital syphilis (syphilis present at birth), have gone down. Research engine FindTheBest took the CDC numbers and created these interactive maps for TIME out of the data.

Scroll over your own state and check out the STD rate.





TIME California

New Bill Would Require California Porn Stars to Wear Condoms

Some fear California's lucrative adult-entertainment industry would flee to other states, but the lawmaker behind the bill says it's a matter of workplace safety

“No glove, no love” is the basic translation of the California Assembly bill that passed on Tuesday, requiring porn stars to wear condoms during film shoots.

The bill, which now shoots over to the state Senate, would additionally require porn studios to provide regular testing for sexually transmitted infections and diseases.

Some industry workers say such regulations would cause the $6 billion adult-entertainment industry to flee California, but the assemblyman behind the bill called the issue a matter of workplace safety.

“Whether you work in agriculture, manufacturing, health care, food service or any other industry, all workers deserve a safe workplace to make a living,” said Isadore Hall (D-Compton), who has unsuccessfully tried to pass similar legislation twice before.

Los Angeles County voters approved a similar law in 2010.



Study Warns of Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea

The forthcoming study raises the prospect of higher rates of the sexually transmitted disease if a traditional treatment is used

Rates of gonorrhea are higher when more people carry drug-resistant strains of the sexually transmitted disease, according to a forthcoming report by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, which will be published in the April 2014 issue of the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, examined the rates of gonorrhea in 17 cities over 16 years, between 1991 and 2006. The study found that although gonorrhea was more prevalent in cities with lower resistance to drugs, in cities where there was a higher resistance, rates of gonorrhea were elevated.

There are an estimated 820,000 cases of gonorrhea in the United States each year, according to the CDC. Resistance to antimicrobial drugs used for treatment, namely cephalosporin, has been increasing in the U.S. over the past several years. The CDC currently recommends two doses of antibiotics when treating the sexually transmitted disease. Sarah Kidd, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC who was not involved in the study, told The Verge that “the emergence and spread of cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhea in the United States appears imminent.”

TIME Sexual Health

Don’t Worry: The HPV Vaccine Isn’t Changing Pre-Teens’ Views About Sex

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The vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections, does not do much to change pre-teens' views or behaviors surrounding sex

The latest study on the role that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine may play on young girls’ sexual behavior shows what public health experts have long maintained — that the shot, which protects against the virus that causes genital warts, does not lead teenage girls or young women to start having unsafe sex. Nor does it change the opinions of girls who already think unsafe sex isn’t a big deal.

The new analysis, published in the journal Pediatrics, comes from researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who studied more than 300 young women between the ages of 13 and 21 right after they received the HPV vaccine, and again six months later. The researchers asked the girls about their views on a variety of sex-related issues, such as what they thought about the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) other than HPV after the vaccination and whether they were sexually active.

MORE: HPV vaccine protection lasts more than 6 years

Their answers showed that getting the vaccine did not change their sexual activity, nor did it alter their perceptions of how likely they were to get an STI such as HPV. The vaccine also did not modify how they felt about safe sex; getting immunized also did not affect whether they thought they would get other STIs.

The researchers concluded that that vaccine therefore does not lead to riskier behaviors, as some anti-vaccine advocates have worried, and believe the data should help doctors to improve vaccination rates; currently, a third of eligible girls and only 7% of boys in the U.S. who should receive the shot have gotten all three doses.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease that affects about 79 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and about 14 million new people will be infected each year. Although most HPV infections resolve on their own, the virus is also the most common cause of cervical cancer, which is why federal health experts added the shot to the childhood immunization schedule in 2007 for girls aged 11 or 12, and for boys of the same age in 2011 in the hopes of protecting people from both STIs and cancer as early as possible.

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