To disclose or not; STD status on dating apps

by Jordan Redman
Staff Writer

Zoosk, Elite Singles, Adult Friend Finder,, FriendFinder-X, MenNation, LesbianPersonals, Hornet, Tinder, Grindr, HER, Scruff, OKCupid…some of these you’ve heard of, some of these you haven’t. What do they all have in common? They’re used by people to find everything from a life partner to a one-night stand.

A 2017 Pew Research survey revealed 84 percent of dating app users stated that they were using online dating services to look for a romantic relationship. 43 percent used online dating for friendly contact, and only 24 percent of respondents stated they used online dating apps and services explicitly for sexual encounters. 

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were more than two million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis reported in the United States in 2017, the highest cumulative number ever recorded.

“Not only are we at an all-time high,” said Gail Bolan, director of the CDC’s division of STD prevention, “but we’re starting to see increases in all kind of communities.”

These facts pose the question; what are dating apps doing to prevent the spread of STD’s?

In 2016, Tinder recently integrated a new health safety section to its platform, linking users to information about safe sex and nearby STD testing centers. Other major sites, such as OKCupid, also have health information posted to their sites.

The Gayly asked members of the community if they think people who have STD’s should be forced to say so on their online dating profile. Here were some of the responses we received:

Allison Ikley-Freeman, Tulsa: “I think that’s a vulnerable thing to just share with the whole world. I think it’s a slippery slope and completely unenforceable.”

Rebecca Bonesteel, Norman: “For incurable STD’s it should just mention it. It is a vulnerable area of people’s lives, but if they aren’t careful, they will be exposing the other person even if they don’t mean to; even if they use protection. Maybe they should enforce current STD screenings.”

M’Caela Sears, Noble: “People could easily lie about it. I think people should be open and honest with a potential sexual partner. I don’t think it’s fair to the other party involved to be exposed to an STD without them knowing. It could majorly change someone’s life. But a lot of people are shitty and selfish and don’t care what happens to other people, especially if it’s just a random hook up.”

Russ White, Las Vegas: “It should be illegal for apps to store medical data like that. And it opens people up to further discrimination and hate crime targeting.”

Floyd Martin, Oklahoma City: “I don’t think it needs to be on their profile, but they certainly need to share it before they have sex.”

V’Toria Craig, Norman: “I don’t think so. Obviously, it should be revealed before intercourse, but that’s such an intimate thing. I wouldn’t want every random person who saw my profile on Tinder to know something that personal. Could also be used to justify more hate crimes, online bullying, etc. It’s problematic from a lot of angles.”

Anonymous said: “I have had a health scare in the past. I’ve used Tinder and was proactive in preventing transmission until cleared. Personally, I never said anything and had guilt over it. I don’t think I would’ve said, “oh, by the way, I have xyz” on the profile, but I think it should be discussed prior.”

Megan Portwood of Norman proposed: “A solution to lessen the chances of contracting or spreading a sexually transmitted disease could include apps requiring annual or biannual screenings for premium members.

“Of course, the results would not be reported for privacy’s concern, but somehow a doctor’s verification could be submitted. This requirement could translate into a ranking system possibly, or “verification.” Just a thought, I am more attracted towards and prefer partners who care about safe sex. I don’t think I’m alone in this!”

Though the opinions differ, an underlying theme reoccurs through most of the statements; STD’s need to be disclosed to potential sexual partners before sex. The role dating apps play in the transmission of STD’s remains undetermined.