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Technology has complicated matters even further, said Katherine Hsu, the medical director of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Division of STD Prevention & HIV/AIDS Surveillance.
When a person tests positive for syphilis in Massachusetts, the case is reported to the state public health department, which reports it to the CDC without identifying the person.
Bolan said she is particularly concerned about syphilis: It was almost eliminated a decade ago, she said, but “now it is rising with all populations — men, women and newborns, and we are seeing these increases in every region of the country.” “We need to improve our screening and treatment,” she said.
“And we need our communities to realize syphilis is back.
That same section also features a link to a “Sexual Health FAQ” page where the user can learn more about HIV, getting tested and related topics.
Grindr for Equality, the app’s health and social justice arm, partners with a network of LGBTQ community centers called Center Link to offer free ad space to small, rural community centers that offer health services in places where there may be few alternatives, according to Director of Grindr for Equality Jack Harrison-Quintana.
Grindr is also active in Building Healthy Online Communities (BHOC), a group of public health leaders, researchers and gay dating apps that work to support HIV and STD prevention online, he said.
And Manhunt, which calls itself “the world’s biggest gay hookup site,” partners with Manhunt Cares, an organization that provides health resources for Manhunt's 237,000 active users and the LGBTQ community at large.
However, they must be built upon strong state and local screening, prevention and treatment efforts.
Syphilis, a disease most people associate with the past, has returned with a roar, and public health experts think the rise in rates can be attributed at least partly to social media.
Infection rates are the highest they have been in 20 years, said David Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors.
It also works with public health departments when it comes to notifying a partner who may have been exposed to an STD, according to Senior Health Strategist David Novak, who served as the national syphilis elimination coordinator at both the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health before coming to work at Online Buddies, Manhunt’s parent company.
“Partner notification was historically performed on a face-to-face basis, but with populations moving to dating sites/apps, a new strategy for delivering disease outbreak interventions was necessary,” said Novak, who worked with Hsu during his time at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.