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.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 9

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. A humanitarian intervention for Aleppo could provide a glimmer of hope in Syria.

By Ana Palacio in Project Syndicate

2. The U.S. needs a new Church Committee to strengthen oversight of our intelligence services.

By Michael German at the Brennan Center for Justice

3. A regional force is the wrong approach to fight Boko Haram — and might make things worse.

By Hilary Matfess in Al Jazeera America

4. The mystery of autism might be unlocked by studying the microorganisms in children’s stomachs.

By Ruth Ann Luna at the Baylor College of Medicine

5. Test for HIV and syphilis with an iPhone.

By Tasbeeh Herwees in Good

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Research

There’s a Smartphone Attachment That Will Test for HIV in 15 Minutes

Blood testing for HIV
Getty Images

The device has the potential to save millions of lives

A team of researchers from Columbia University have developed a device that can be plugged into a smartphone and used to quickly test for HIV and syphilis.

The mobile device tests for three infectious-disease markers in just 15 minutes by using a finger-prick of blood, and draws all the power it needs from the smartphone, Science Daily reports.

The accessory costs an estimated $34 to make and is capable of replicating tests done in a laboratory using equipment that costs many thousands of dollars.

Samuel K. Sia, head researcher and associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia, described the smartphone accessory as “full laboratory quality.”

Because it can be easily used in remote and impoverished areas, like rural Africa, it is hoped the small but effective smartphone accessory will save millions of lives from sexually transmitted diseases.

[Science Daily]

TIME Sex

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.

Gonorrhea

Syphilis

Chlamydia

HIV

TIME Infectious Disease

Syphilis Rates Are Up in the U.S., Especially in Men

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that cases of the sexually transmitted disease have doubled in the U.S. since 2005—there were 16,663 new infections last year—and that men account for 91 percent of the cases

Syphilis cases have doubled in the U.S. since 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Last year, 16,663 were infected with the sexually transmitted disease, the highest rate in the U.S. since it was nearly eliminated in 2000.

The increase is seen almost entirely in men, who account for 91% of cases in the U.S., the CDC said. The highly contagious disease’s infection rate among women has remained fairly constant since 2005.

In its report, the CDC added that new cases were most commonly diagnosed among men who have sex with men, cautioning that this is “a major public-health concern, particularly because syphilis and the behaviors associated with acquiring it increase the likelihood of acquiring and transmitting HIV.”

If left untreated, syphilis can cause serious damage to the brain and nerves. The agency recommended that doctors encourage safer sex practices and increase screening for the STD.

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