It seems the “love bug” is biting harder in a new sexual world. Grinder, Growlr, Scruff, and OKCupid! has sent the city up the scale for STD cases. What do they have to do with the rise of STD cases in the area? They are social dating apps which hook up young people for free sexual encounters. Being anonymous, young people are not scared of what encounters may include. We may have thought the “free love era” was over, but the fact is, there are higher rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, and HIV than ever according to the Center for Disease Control.
Dr. Alina Alonso, director of Palm Beach County’s Health Department, notes many millennials don’t care if they get HIV. They see it as a treatable chronic disease that popping some pills will help. So, the problem spreads as thousands take unhealthy and unsafe risks.
- Palm Beach County saw a 30 percent spike in STDs from 2009 to 2014 with over 6,000 cases reported.
- Two years ago (2015) Florida had one of highest rates of new HIV infections in the nation. Over 14,000 cases of Chlamydia were reported alone, compared to a little over 1,000cases twenty years ago.
- There were also increases in gonorrhea and syphilis, especially among young teenage girls. In fact, most cases reported were females under age 25.
Age plays a huge role in STD cases, but it is not only teenagers and young adults that are getting infected. With its beautiful oceanfront, the city sees its share of young people. Females between the ages of 20–29 were reported to have syphilis more than any other age group in the state. Twenty-three percent of all new HIV diagnoses are among young people ages 13–24. Three out of every four reported STD cases in the state were in the 15–29 age range.
But it also has a lot of gated 55-plus communities with seniors who are active with Viagra. With the older generation staying more sexually active, there is a rise in and Syphilis infections there as well.
Chlamydia is most often strikes young people while syphilis affects the older generation. The problem stems from young people not caring to protect themselves or the unwise tendency to believe “it won’t happen to me.” Adults over fifty who should know better, no longer have to worry about pregnancy and may believe that STDs are the younger persons’ diseases. Unwisely, they will engage in sex without protection. This risky behavior often has dire consequences.
While HIV has fallen over the last few years, there are more cases of other sexually transmitted diseases. The rate of Syphilis in the city falls within the 5.8-18.0 rate per 100,000 in population. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of STI clinics for people to get a private HIV test or Herpes testing. Some of these diseases are treatable, and most are manageable.
Many people, young and old in the city look at HIV as simply a chronic disease that is nothing to fear. Because of that fact, sadly more promiscuity takes place. Dr. Alina Alonso, director of Palm Beach County’s Health Department added, “So they are not getting HIV, but they are getting syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and all the other sexually transmitted diseases and they are spreading them.”
There may not be a simple answer. However, Palm Beach County and the city of Palm Beach Gardens is trying to improve STD testing, offer free STD testing or free STD clinics, and get the public informed for safer sex practices.