Researchers are finding that the rapid growth in online dating is a cause for a sudden jump in the rate of STD transmission within the African American community.
“You don’t have to spend a week in a bar to find somebody your comfortable with,” said St. Louis Health Director Pam Walker, “People are doing it online and they’re doing it faster.”
Walker says that 90% of the 400 new gonorrhea cases that have come into St. Louis clinics have been African Americans between the ages of 15 and 24. The same is true for the 126 cases of chlamydia. The CDC also says that there were 18 new cases of syphilis in the city with all of the syphilis cases coming from gay men who know they are HIV positive.
“Two people who know their status and know they are positive for HIV feel like they can have sex without a condom, because they’re already infected,” Walker said, “And what they’re doing is giving each other syphilis.”
Syphillis cases are up 46 percent, gonorrhea up 31 percent and chlamydia up three present. Walker warns that not slowing the rate of STD growth in the black community could end up becoming a serious health problem.
“If I put 20 disease investigators in the field and they followed those 55 people around who have syphilis, could I probably get rid of it?” Walker asked, “Yeah, but that would cost about $400,000.”
Walker is advocating that community clinics help her to locate sex partners of people with sexual diseases. There is a new state law called the “Expedited Partner Therapy Law” that allows for clinics to give out enough antibiotics to known carriers of gonorrhea , chlamydia or syphilis so they can give them anonymously to their sex partners.
“If you have gonorrhea, then your partner probably has gonorrhea,” Walker said, “I need to talk to that partner and find out if they have three other partners, or we never break the chain.” Walker says
Of greatest concern is chlamydia, which has no symptoms. If left untreated, it can cause infertility in women. Based on a national CDC study, Walker estimates that one-in-three women in St. Louis has chlamydia, but the report doesn’t say if she is referencing all women or just African Americans.