Health In Focus
Internet Dating Sites Could Be Responsible for the Spread of HIV
Dating is a part of the human mating process and people usually go through a lot of alternatives to find healthy relationships. Internet dating sites, are growing in popularity and online dating seems to be the fastest, most efficient trend to choose from a host of qualified candidates. However, it is always advisable to tread with caution as a new study reveals the stark truth!

The authors of the study are from the Brown University, The Miriam Hospital, and the Rhode Island Department of Health, who conducted a state-wide study that included most of the people who were newly diagnosed with HIV across that state. The main goal of this study was to inspire partnership with companies to try and bring about awareness of HIV and minimize the spreading of this virus.

The studies indicate that dating websites and apps could be the reason behind new cases of HIV-infected men in the United States. They want to make the general public aware of the risks of sexual encounters which are arranged online.

It was seen that as high as 60% of men from Rhode Island who have sex with men (MSM) and were diagnosed with HIV in the year 2013 reportedly contracted the virus after meeting their sexual partners online in the preceding year. This report was published in the journal Public Health Reports.

They are of the opinion that all companies which produce these online dating websites and apps should connect with various public health groups to keep them informed and spread awareness about the possible risks of the online-arranged sexual encounters. They should advertise the risks such as HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and help prevent such infections in the community.

The study reported that 74 residents from Ocean State were diagnosed with HIV in the year 2013 alone. Amongst these residents, three in five were reportedly gay, bisexual or other MSM. 22 out of these 43 people informed the study authors that they might have contracted HIV after having sexual episodes with the men that they dated online.

Amy Nunn, who is the associate professor of Public Health and Medicine at Brown University and director of the Rhode Island Public Health Institute commented, "This is a statewide study that included nearly all individuals newly diagnosed with HIV across an entire state. This is one of the first studies to document how common Internet use is among people newly diagnosed with HIV and highlights important opportunities to partner with hookup sites to advance public health."

Lead author Dr. Philip Chan mentioned that the upside to these hookup sites was that they were part of the lifestyle and culture among gay and bisexual men, which could lead to a long and healthy relationship between the individuals.

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, who is the coauthor of the study, said that this study is mainly to facilitate greater collaboration around education to address the health issues of men who have sex with men. The growing diagnosis of new cases of HIV among men who have sex with men should be an eye opener and this concern must be promptly addressed.

The study has a distinction to be a first of its kind to reveal how popular internet dating sites are amongst people who are newly diagnosed with HIV infection and highlights the need to partner with these hookup sites to bring about awareness to the general public.

Source: Medindia

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