• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 4s

Social media hookup apps fueling increase in STD cases

By KTVA Alaska 6:18 AM May 30, 2014

Health officials are concerned that social media may be fueling an alarming increase of syphilis cases.

ANCHORAGE –

A sexually transmitted disease that was all but wiped out in Alaska just a few years ago is back, and the state is calling it an outbreak.

Now, concern is also on the rise about what may be fueling this alarming increase in syphilis cases.

Officials are linking the dramatic increase to apps that make it easier than ever to hook up. Health officials believe the ease of access to anonymous, no-strings-attached sex between men that apps like Tinder, Grindr and GROWLr provide is fueling an alarming trend.

“They’re having sex with individuals they don’t know and they’re acquiring syphilis,” said Alaska HIV and STD program manager Susan Jones. “And we also have an uptick in the HIV cases.”

The number of syphilis cases in Anchorage rose 60 percent recently; from 20 cases in 2012 to 32 cases in 2013, according to the Department of Health and Social Services. So far this year, 22 syphilis cases — all men — have been reported in Alaska.

Some in the LGBT community say social media isn’t to blame, and what this STD trend boils down to is personal responsibility or a lack thereof.

“I don’t think it’s the apps, we’re all human,” said R.J. Haywood, promotions manager at Mad Myrna’s. “We’re going to hook up one way or another.”

Haywood believes the problem lies in a lack of education and a lack of healthy fear in younger gay men that didn’t live through the aids crisis in the 80s and 90s.

“Their entire generation was devastated,” said Haywood, referring to how AIDS impacted the gay community in the 80s. “It’s not so much a death sentence anymore. Now you’ve got these kids that have never seen the true horror of what it can actually be, so syphillis isn’t their biggest fear.”

Health officials are urging those engaging in high-risk sexual behavior to take personal responsibility and protect themselves and their partners.

But Haywood said far too often, people opt to learn that lesson hard way.

“One time there was a group of military boys that I was hanging out with and they all got genital warts and after that they were really good about wrapping it up,” he said. “It takes a good scare but it also takes education within the community.”

Mad Myrna’s has been serving the Anchorage LGBT community since the early 90s. Managers there said they’ve taken it upon themselves to offer free condoms to customers and to invite organizations in to do free HIV testing for customers.

Latest Stories

  • Politics

    Governor, lawmakers find common ground on one issue: Alaska’s heroin epidemic

    by Liz Raines on Jan 19, 20:56

    It’s only the third day of the 2017 legislative session, but already the dialogue in Juneau has been dominated by the state’s budget problem — a $3 billion shortfall, according to Gov. Bill Walker. Lawmakers and the governor may not agree on how to fix the state’s finances, but there is one issue they say […]

  • News

    Crashes involving school busses on the rise in Anchorage

    by Lauren Maxwell on Jan 19, 20:22

    The Anchorage School District is reporting an unusually high number of crashes involving school buses over the past few weeks. Chuck Moore, head of pupil transportation for ASD, said there have been eight crashes since mid December. In every case it was a driver that hit a school bus, almost all with students on board. No […]

  • News

    Where’s the weed? Anchorage pot shops cope with cannabis shortage

    by Shannon Ballard on Jan 19, 19:30

    If you’re hoping to pick up some legal marijuana in Anchorage, you may be out of luck. Currently, there are three stores open locally. Budtenders at Alaska Fireweed say they still have some flower on their shelves, but Dankorage and Artic Herbery say they’re sold out. It didn’t take long for Anchorage’s first pot shop to […]

  • Court docs: APD officer shook hands with suspect wanted for stealing car with toddler inside

    by Daniella Rivera on Jan 19, 18:21

    Anchorage police are still looking for the man they believe stole a running car with a toddler inside on New Year’s Day and has allegedly stolen two more vehicles since. Court documents explain the series of events that led the Anchorage Police Department to their search for 37-year-old Bruce Allen King. In a criminal complaint […]

  • On-Air

    Reality Check w/ John Tracy: The legitimacy of Donald Trump

    by John Tracy on Jan 19, 16:38

    America will swear in a new commander in chief Friday. The ceremony in Washington, D.C. is intended to demonstrate, once again, that a peaceful transition of power is central to our democracy. However, many members of Congress now say they will boycott the inauguration. When Georgia Rep., and civil rights icon, John Lewis said he […]

  • News

    Alaska gasline corporation opens office in Japan

    by Liz Raines on Jan 19, 16:28

    The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) is opening an office in Tokyo, according to a Jan. 12 notice from the agency and Gov. Bill Walker. The notice specifies Masatoshi Nick Shiratori as director of the office. Aside from the notice, the decision has not been publicly announced. Grace Jang, a spokesperson for Walker, called use […]

  • New Anchorage nonprofit promotes positive police interactions

    by Daybreak Staff on Jan 19, 15:22

    Newly formed nonprofit Anchorage Cops for Community is looking to help foster positive relations between police and the community they serve. It’s an outreach program sponsored through Anchorage Police Department Employee Association (APDEA), but chair Angelina Fraize says they hope to do more, like their popular monthly Coffee with a Cop events. The APDEA felt that […]

  • News

    EPA proposes OK of Fairbanks air plan, but more steps needed

    by Associated Press on Jan 19, 14:04

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to accept a state of Alaska plan for cleaning up the air in Fairbanks. EPA region 10 air office director Tim Hamlin says the agency is recommending approval of the plan even as it works to reclassify pollution violations in Fairbanks as serious rather than moderate. Reclassification would […]