A billboard campaign launched in Los Angeles earlier this month aims to draw attention to the issue of rising sexually transmitted disease rates over a time period that corresponds with the growing popularity of dating or “hookup” mobile phone apps like Tinder and Grindr.
In addition to a lengthy September Vanity Fairarticle titled “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse’” that explored the role mobile dating apps are increasingly playing in encouraging casual sex among young adults, the Rhode Island Department of Health reported in May that cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and HIV sharply rose between 2013 and 2014 and said that high-risk behaviors such as “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” have become more common in recent years.
“Mobile dating apps are rapidly altering the sexual landscape by making casual sex as easily available as ordering a pizza,” Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director, Public Health Division for the organization behind the billboards, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) said in a press release. “We want to remind sexually active adults—especially young people—how easy it can be to contract an STD and the importance of undergoing regular screenings to protect their sexual health.”
AHF’s billboard campaign incorporates two of the most popular mobile dating apps, Tinder and Grindr, and attempts to remind users of the inherent STD risks of both heterosexual and homosexual casual sexual encounters.
AHF’s Wellness Centers provide free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. To find the nearest location for STD screening and treatment, visit www.freestdcheck.org
Just blocks away from the Tinder headquarters in Los Angeles, a large pink and purple billboard encapsulates much of what critics don’t like about the dating app. Two pairs of people are silhouetted against a bright background, their foreheads inclined toward one another, their noses nearly touching.