Linn County Public Health uses dating apps to cut down on STI cases

Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 3:30 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise both nationally and locally. The Linn County Public Health Department is using dating apps among other methods to try and limit spread.

“Every case of gonorrhea, every case of syphilis, every case of HIV, we work very hard to find all those contacts,” explained Heather Meador, Clinical Branch Supervisor at Linn County Public Health.

The Linn County Public Health Department says cases of Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV are all on the rise locally. Dating apps may be playing a role.

”What we’re seeing are more and more people on dating apps and meeting each other and having sexual contact, and that’s increasing to some of our numbers,” Meador said.

But the apps are also being used to try and crack down on spread. Each time there is a positive STI case, Linn County Public Health does contact tracing. That’s something they’ve been doing since before people because familiar with the term during the pandemic.

“It used to be that it was really easy to make a phone call to somebody and you could catch them on their home phone, then it was their cell phone. But it’s harder and harder to find people with a phone number,” said Meader.

It’s why the health department has turned to social media dating apps to try and reach contacts.

“Let them know that hey your name came up during an investigation we’d really like you to come in and get a free test, let us see if we can help you and if you have something we will take care of it,” Meador said.

Bottom line, they want people who’ve been with someone who’s tested positive to get tested as STI’s don’t always come with symptoms. Dating apps are just one more way to try and reach people. The health department offers testing on site as well as free home test kits that an be ordered online or picked up at area pharmacies.

“The more sexual partners you have the higher the incidents for acquiring a sexually transmitted infection, so again we just want people to protect themselves,” said Meador.