Tinder might be to blame for rise in syphilis among millennials

Tinder might be to blame for rise in syphilis among millennials, by Naomi Schaefer Riley.

How did you like the 15th century? Not so much? Too bad because syphilis is making a comeback.

According to a new report issued last week by the Centers for Disease Control, there has been a spike in the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea, but syphilis came out on top with a whopping 19 percent rise over just last year. The spike was felt most by young people aged 15-24.

Some experts have pointed to the “Tinder effect,” the idea that online hookup sites are making casual anonymous sex easier and more common than it used to be. It’s true that millennials generally are less likely to be sexually active in their 20s than previous generations and the age of first sexual intercourse has ticked upward in recent years, but it seems that the segment of the population who are having casual sex are having more of it and more of it anonymously. …

Attitudes to disease:

Sure, some sexually transmitted diseases can lead to infertility, but most effects of STDs can be cured with antibiotics. In other words, it is hard to put the fear of God in young people with these kinds of problems. As Josh Bloom of the American Council on Science and Health notes, drugs now allow HIV-positive people to have unprotected sex without passing it on to uninfected partners. “And if they do, so what? You take a pill or two per day and live a mostly normal life.”

Bloom suggests that the rise in syphilis among gay men is “very good, albeit indirect, evidence that the reduced fear of HIV infection is a very important factor in driving up the rates of other STDs.” …

But the effects of these STDs are not negligible. If left untreated, about 10-15 percent of women with chlamydia will develop pelvic inflammatory disease, according to the CDC, which can lead to infertility.

Meanwhile some new strains of gonorrhea have been detected that seem to be resistant to antibiotics. Syphilis is hard to detect because its symptoms look like a lot of other ailments. If untreated it can remain latent in the body for years. In the late stages of syphilis, “The disease may damage the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints.”