Tinder Adds an STD Clinic Locator to the Application

Popular dating app Tinder has now agreed to provide information about local sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing clinic locations, halting a long battle with a California advocacy group.

The decision marks an end to Tinder’s battle with Los Angeles, CA based AIDS Health Foundation. In the fall of 2015, the group launched an ad campaign accusing the dating app of contributing to the spread of STDs.

Tinder has always marketed itself as a dating app, but critics argue that the app is only used for casual hook ups. Therefore, its reputation as a “hook up” app has contributed to the idea that the app is responsible for the spread of STDs.

“Hook up” is a colloquial term commonly used to refer to the act of making out and/or having sexual intercourse.

It has been said that the current generation is the “hook up” generation, as many people desire simply to have sex with others and not start a meaningful relationship. With Tinder, individuals can create a profile with a short biography explaining their interests and personality. Then, the users can upload a series of photos. Upon reading the profile and viewing the photos, the other users, many of whom are a reasonable distance away, can either swipe right, indicating that this person is attractive, or swipe left, suggesting that there is no interest in this person.

Additionally, users can super swipe, meaning that they swipe upward and have a particularly strong attraction.

If two people swipe right on one another, they have the ability to chat and meet up. What happens next has caused some concern among health groups.

Therefore, the recent heat toward the app has prompted Tinder to take necessary safety measures.

“I think this new function is a great idea, because hopefully when two people meet up, they are secure that anything that happens will end safely,” said Malcolm Wilson, sophomore health studies student. “Although it has been marketed as a dating app, it does have a reputation for being used simply to hook up with people, so the fact that an STD clinic locator is available on the app will make people more confident that they will be safe.”

Jaime Myers, a professor in the Health Studies and Nursing Department, said that any step toward proactive measures is a beneficial and necessary one.

“I think any way we can make finding STI testing locations easier for young people to find and access is a step forward,” said Myers.  “Sometimes the barrier to getting tested is just figuring out where to go and how much it will cost.”

As Myers explained, sometimes people do not know the process of getting tested, and therefore neglect to even inquire. However, now that the specific information is provided within the app, hopefully more people will be proactive in seeking the necessary preventative measures.

Within the app, a function allows the user to locate the nearest STD clinic, therefore both parties can agree to visit before any interaction occurs.

“Something like this was definitely needed, because the app was garnering way too much bad publicity,” said Wilson. “Now hopefully people will not be reckless when looking for a quick hookup.

Further, Jihad Johnson, a sophomore communication student, said that the app’s latest feature is most definitely beneficial.

“It is good because with Tinder, you are dealing with strangers and you do not know much about them and it kind of reminds you that these people are strangers and that you should be safe,” said Johnson.

“With respect to health messaging, Tinder may also want to fun ways to advertise and normalize condom use, as condoms are one of the best ways to prevent the spread of some of the most common STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea,” said Myers. “Advertising the HPV vaccine would be another positive step forward in the sexual health arena, especially if they could direct users where to get vaccinated similar to the testing locations.  Finally, it would be helpful if they provided links to useful sexual health and dating websites that are medically accurate and non-judgmental.  For instance, goaskalice.com out of Columbia University is a great resource for even the more benign dating questions.”

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