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Social media to blame for an increase in chlamydia among all age groups

Social networking has made anonymous dating as easy as launching an app, but it’s suspected to be the cause for a rise in chlamydia cases, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

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While chlamydia is a commonly reported sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is easily treatable, the Lincoln Journal Star reports that the disease continues to rise in Lincoln, and in Omaha it has been called an epidemic. Andrea Haberman, local health department manager and expert on STDs, says it’s perplexing considering the test for chlamydia is simple and painless, generally requiring just a urine sample. Treatment is equally simple with a dose of antibiotics and abstinence for seven days. Furthermore, most of the testing and treatment for chlamydia is covered by insurance. Even so, cases continue to rise, including among people who become re-infected within six months of treatment.

Fingers are pointing at social networking. The increased ability to connect anonymously with and quickly meet any number of sexual partners online has been connected to an increase in STDs in the past. Earlier this year, Rhode Island’s Department of Health reported that Tinder and other apps were contributing to a significant increase in STDs. Syphilis cases increased an astounding 79 percent, while HIV infections and gonorrhea increased by at least 30 percent, especially among those in the 15 to 24 age group, which incidentally makes up the majority of Tinder users.

And in addition to the continuing rise in chlamydia cases, it seems that Facebook, texting, and online dating have led to increasing infection rates among older age groups as well; because of the increase in social media use among older age groups, the number of people in their 30s to 60s who are testing positive for STDs has also risen in recent years. According to Haberman, a reduction in face-to-face conversations as a prelude to intimacy is leading people to more easily trust strangers as well as to have unprotected sex. “It is important to get to know the person beyond social media, to be able to trust that what that person says to you is true,” she says.