In Nueces County and even across the country, the number of people contracting sexually transmitted diseases is on the rise. Syphilis, once in decline, is once again becoming a major problem in South Texas. Healthcare professionals are saying new dating apps could have something to do with this increase.
Adrian Gutierrez is a public health administrator for the Corpus Christi Nueces County Public Health District. He oversees the STD clinic and says, although using dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, or Bumble – to name a few – is not considered a risky behavior, sleeping with someone you’ve just met on the app is dangerous.
"The risk is the having multiple partners, so that’s why the dating site plays a big role in it," Gutierrez said. "Because it’s so easy to get on there and meet numerous people."
When using dating apps, if you’re interested in someone, you swipe right on a person’s photo. If they swipe right on your photo too, you’re a match.
Gutierrez says using these apps speeds up the dating process. It also multiplies the number of people you encounter because meeting new people is available right at your finger tips.
"In traditional dating, it takes a while to get to know someone and identify if you have some commonalities with that individual," Gutierrez said. "With these internet dating sites, it kind of speeds up the process because you have a lot of that information already on there."
Gutierrez says many people who have tested positive in the past year, admitted to meeting their flings online. He adds, that could be a reason positive STD cases are on the rise.
According to data from the Texas Department State Health Services, from 2009 to 2016, the number of syphilis cases jumped from 30 to 109. Over seven years, that number tripled. And just five months into 2018, the county already confirmed 113 cases. The problem with syphilis is you could be infected but not show signs for several years.
Meanwhile, chlamydia cases are also increasing. In 2009, 2,079 Nueces County residents tested positive for this STD. Seven years later, that number jumped to 2,587. Medical experts fear that number will continue to grow.
"We’re not sure why," Gutierrez said. "The only thing we can do is try to get the word out there and get people tested."
The Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation is one resource in Corpus Christi offering HIV/STD testing and educational resources. Alison Johnson, the director of outreach and prevention says when someone tests positive, they educate the person on their STD and how to avoid getting infected with other sexually transmitted diseases.
"We want people to be aware of how STD’s are transmitted and what the symptoms are," Johnson said.
Johnson adds, now that the use of dating apps are becoming more popular, resources like the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation want to make sure their education and prevention follow suit.
"We’re starting to develop some programming around the use of apps," Johnson said. "And so if they’re utilizing applications to find sexual partners, than we want to be able to incorporate that education into that.
Public health experts say it’s better safe than sorry. If you or someone you know wants to get tested, there are numerous resources available, including:
Click here for more information about the Corpus Christi Nueces County Public Health District.
Click here for more information about the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation.