Casual sex apps linked to rash of STD cases - The Buffalo News

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Casual sex apps linked to rash of STD cases

Believe it or not, there are new smartphone apps whose sole purpose is to help the user find someone for casual sex. Craigslist also has been serving that same purpose. And, of course, there are the old-fashioned bar “hook-ups.”

So let me ask you: Which method of finding someone is more likely to lead you to a person with the “gift that keeps on giving,” a sexually transmitted disease?

Now, close your eyes and guess. If you answered the app, then you were as smart as the phone.

A new study in the British Medical Journal shows that finding a “friend” with benefits through a phone app is more likely to mean you will need that shot of penicillin to treat what comes afterward.

These apps are exploding. One app, for example, used primarily by gays and bisexuals, now has 6 million members in 200 countries. The number of people using another hook-up app for the straight-sex crowd, has doubled in the last three months.

Here’s how it works: Users register, sign in and post information about themselves, just like on dating sites such as If someone else is looking for “love” tonight, you can find out where they are through the handy GPS tool – in fact, they might be right down the block.

Send them a message and you’re in business. The same GPS tool you used to find the nearest pizza joint will locate a willing sex partner.

The BMJ study divided 7,000 men who came in for treatment of STDs into three groups – bar hopping, online “shopping” and phone apps. They found that if you’re looking to win the gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis sweepstakes then the apps take it, hands-down.

That’s a contest nobody wants to win.

Technology is always one step ahead of the game, especially when it comes to sex. Pornography used to be purchased in the “bad” areas of town, then it moved to hotel rooms, and now it’s ubiquitous on the Internet.

The bottom-line issue, speaking as a doctor, is that adventurous sex is too often unprotected sex. Not all the time, mind you, but far too often.

Unfortunately, there are many young people who don’t remember seeing folks their age die of AIDS (anonymous sex tends to attract a younger crowd). They think of STDs as curable and without consequence. They’re wrong.

While penicillin still works for syphilis, it stopped working for gonorrhea decades ago. These nasty bugs mutate far quicker than our ability to find new antibiotics to treat them.

My spin: It’s “buyer beware.” There may not be any money transacted in these cases, but you certainly can get more than you bargained for.

Dr. Zorba Paster is a physician, university professor, author and broadcast journalist. He hosts a radio program at 3 p.m. Saturdays on WBFO-FM 88.7; email him at

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