New Research shows that one in five 18-24-year olds have contracted an STI from someone they met online.

  • Zava examines the impact dating apps have on our sexual health 
  • 18% said that they had contracted an STI from someone they had met online.
  • The survey had also show disparities between both regions and sexuality

In the modern era of love and romance, having a relationship with someone you met online is a normal occurrence. Across campus there will be scores of students with some form of dating app on their home screen. But are young people putting themselves at a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases?

Research conducted by online medical doctor site Zava examined the impact dating apps have had on their sexual health as well as their motivations to undergo STI testing. A survey of 2000 18 to 24-year olds was carried out.

From the 2000 young adults:

  • 85% had used a dating app in the past
  • 70% of those was the popular app Tinder
  • 18% said that they had contracted an STI from someone they had met online.
18% said they had contracted an STI from someone they met online

The most common STI among the young adults was Chlamydia with 10% of respondents contracting the infection from someone they met online.

Dr Kathryn Basford from Zava said: “STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea can be symptomless, so young people could be carrying infections and passing them on without their knowledge. The practice of deleting profiles and changing apps means daters cannot always inform their previous sexual partners if they are diagnosed with an infection later on. As a result, STIs present a real threat to young people, and without using condoms, they will continue to put themselves and their partners at risk.” 

When the young adults were questioned on STI testing, one in five of those said that they get tested when starting a new relationship.  20% of respondents said that they regularly test themselves from home.

Condoms are not always an effective prevention of STIs

The survey has also shown disparities between both regions and sexuality. Overall, gay and bisexual young adults are more likely to get regularly tested for STIs with 34% of respondents who identified as gay or bisexual saying they regularly get tested compared to 28% of those who identified as heterosexual.

Those in rural areas were more likely to have contracted an STI with lack of information or less convenient access to sexual health clinics. However despite the high rates of infection amongst respondents, two thirds of the young adults felt that they were well informed about STIs. 

If you do find yourself needing to go to a sexual health clinic, check out the NHS website to find out where your earest clinic is and for more information.

You can also find out more information from online doctors Zava and the work they do.