Modern medicine and greater awareness of sexually transmitted infections and diseases have lulled young people into a false sense of security, according to Rhode Island's Department of Health.
The agency reported on Tuesday that sexually transmitted diseases are way up in the state, and blamed part of the increase on hookup apps like Tinder.
Between 2013 and 2014, reported cases of syphilis grew by a whopping 79 percent. HIV infections were up 33 percent while gonorrhea cases increased by 30 percent. The numbers are staggering, as they likely under-report the true extent of the problem given many people carry such illnesses and do not report them.
The link to social dating and hookup apps comes from the fact that STD cases for young adults are growing at a faster rate than the rest of the population.
Rhode Island reports that its recent uptick in STD cases follows the national trend. The state's health department singled out "high-risk behaviors that have become more common in recent years," including "using social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters."
This isn't the first time social media and online hookup apps have been blamed for a rise in STDs.
A 2013 study conducted by New York University found that Craigslist was responsible for a 16 percent increase in HIV cases between 1999 and 2008 across 33 states. Gay hookup app Grinder was associated with more than half of all syphilis cases in New Zealand in 2012, according to Christchurch Sexual Health Clinic.
"These new data underscore the importance of encouraging young people to begin talking to a doctor, nurse, or health educator about sexual health," said Rosemary Reilly-Chammat, an HIV/AIDS specialist for the Rhode Island Department of Education.