A number of sexually transmitted diseases hit an all-time high in the U.S. last year, and some medical experts are blaming the country’s hook-up culture for the spike.
In total, 2017 saw 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, according to a new analysis released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of cases between 2016 and 2017 increased by more than 200,000 — an upward trend that has been ongoing for four consecutive years. Furthermore, the number of syphilis diagnoses almost doubled, gonorrhea cases alone increased by 67 percent and chlamydia diagnoses remained at a record high.
— CDC (@CDCgov) August 28, 2018
“We have seen steep and sustained increases over the last five years,” Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the division of STD prevention for the CDC, said, according to NBC News. “Usually there are ebbs and flows, but this sustained increase is very concerning. We haven’t seen anything like this for two decades.”
The Rev. Franklin Graham took to Twitter on Wednesday to weigh in on the developments, which he argued are a result of “a moral crisis and a spiritual crisis” across the country.
An STD expert says that @POTUS should declare this a public health crisis. I believe what America has is a moral crisis and a spiritual crisis. And it manifests itself in many ways, including this public health crisis. 2/3
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) August 29, 2018
Graham might be right about the “crisis.” Medical experts believe the rise in dating apps — like Tinder, Grindr and Bumble — have made it easier for people to find sexual partners with whom they can have condom-less intercourse, widely considered a form of high-risk sexual engagement.
Last fall, a public health group working with dating apps to raise awareness about STD prevention, Building Healthy Online Communities, described such applications as “digital bathhouses” in the modern age.
“We used to think about what we can do with bathhouses and sex clubs to make sure people’s risk was reduced,” BHOC director Dan Wohlfeiler told Vox. “Now that dating sites and apps have become so common, we know we need to work with them.”
Some experts, though, like Jeffrey Klausner, an STD researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, said dating apps are hesitant to support efforts centered on sexual health because it could result in being “stigmatized for being associated with STDs.”
As a result, “they do as little as possible,” he explained.
It’s important to note here that, while dating apps might be compounding the spread of STDs, that is only one aspect of the problem. In reality, the problem is we live in an increasingly morally relative culture that sees sex and sexuality as nothing more than a commodity to be traded between two consenting — or, sadly, even non-consenting — partners.
Our culture is clearly in crisis.