Swipe right on condoms


Swiping right on a sexy picture won’t give you an STI, but having sex without protection certainly might.

From Tinder to Grindr, Craiglist to Salaam Swipe — a dating app for Muslims looking for love — hooking up has become so simple that the AIDS Health Foundation (AHF) is worried it’s leading to higher rates of STIs. 

Hence their new billboard, erected a few blocks away from the Tinder headquarters last week, which depicts two pairs of silhouettes with the words “Tinder” and “Chlamydia” written on one couple, and “Grindr” and “Gonorrhea” on the other. 

Tinder has filed a cease and desist letter in response, which AHF has chosen to ignore. 

The organization has cited as support a Rhode Island Department of Health report that attributed a rise in STD cases to social media’s ability to “arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters”, among others, as support.

Casual sex with strangers has always had its associated risks. Not to say it isn’t also rewarding, but the reward isn’t always what’s expected. 

However, the rising rates of STIs which led to AHF’s campaign could be attributed to a number of factors — unprotected sex, drunken hookups, numerous sexual partners — and they all have to do with how we have sex, not necessarily how we go about finding it. 

Using technology to arrange a sexual encounter isn’t shameful in and of itself, but any activity becomes dangerous if its participants don’t understand how to protect themselves. 

Essentially, the problem isn’t dating apps themselves, but how we use them.

What we can take away from reports of increased rates of STIs is that the class where you learned how to put a condom on a banana wasn’t effective enough. 

Negotiating sexual encounters is more complicated these days, but this wouldn’t be so worrisome if we knew how to have sex without getting an STI.

If AHF has sufficient evidence that specific dating apps are the cause of, and not just correlated to, rising rates of venereal disease, then by all means they should fulfill their mandate and alert users to the danger. 

But until that point, their targeting of Tinder and Grindr is more a defamatory shot in the dark than a well-aimed conscientious public service. 

All is not necessarily fair in sex and billboards.  

— Journal Editorial Board


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