With the rise in online dating, the Canadian Public Health Agency of Canada has revealed that the rate of new reported syphilis cases in the country has increased almost 10 times since 2000.
Chlamydia incidences fell in the 90s, but have risen 66% since the turn of the century.
In 2009, at least 87,000 new incidences were recorded and HIV, as well, saw a gradual drop in the 1990s but has been rising again in the 2000’s.
Some health professionals believe that the escalation in online dating sites is partly responsible for these figures, as the dating industry has risen dramatically, with £30 million in receipts in 2000 to over £1 billion today.
Twenty five percent of Canadians have been involved in internet dating, a survey undertaken last year discovered and 16 percent report having sex with a person they had met online.
A large number of new singles enrolling in dating sites are in their middle years and even older age groups that are not so likely to practise safe sex, but they make up many of the new STD infections.
Experts say that online dating might enforce a feeling of security and closeness for members, therefore without thinking lead daters to risk take more in their sexual encounters.
Dr. Jill Grimes, who wrote Seductive Delusions, said that STD patients often report a feeling of greater intimacy when with people they have met online, particularly as correspondence has often taken place over lengthy periods. Because of this, physical closeness proceeds at a faster rate. The error that is made is thinking that we know someone and therefore they are unlikely to have an STD.
To put an end to this spike in STD rates, dating sites are now being asked to add features such as a safe-sex choice in members’ profiles, and lists of HIV testing centres, and electronic cards to let partners know if results are positive.
There are, however, many experts, including those in health departments, who say there is no real evidence of a connection between online dating popularity and the spike in STD infections, but clever daters will select partners carefully and will therefore practise safe sex with all dating encounters.