Montana STD Numbers Could Be Connected With Dating Apps

Oct 26, 2018

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria, which causes gonorrhea.Credit NIAID / FlickrEdit | Remove

The number of sexual transmitted diseases is growing annually in Montana, including Yellowstone, Montana’s most populous county. Officials suspect hook-up apps may be contributing to those rising stats.

Instances of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis have all risen in Yellowstone County over the last 10 years, said Kim Bailey, the Communicable Diseases Program Manger at RiverStone Health in Billings. She said the region has seen 325 cases of gonorrhea so far in 2018. Last year, it was 199. And in 2008, the number was 44.

Bailey said dating apps may be responsible for increasing the ease of casual hook-ups and unprotected sex.

“We do ask sometimes when we’re interviewing people and talking with them so that we have a good understanding of what is going on,” said Bailey. “And for some of the diseases, we see the use of apps and unprotected sex more frequently.”

She said such apps tend to be more associated with the rise in syphilis and gonorrhea than with chlaymidia, which is already fairly widespread.

Since those apps can facilitate anonymous sex, and people sometimes delete their accounts after an encounter, Bailey said it can be difficult for a person diagnosed with a STD to track down partners and inform them.

The increase of STDs isn’t unique to Montana.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis together have increased by 31 percent nationwide between 2013 and 2017. Chlamydia was the most common of the three reported in 2017.