Following an awareness campaign by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the dating app Tinder, added a sexually transmitted illness testing locator to its website on Jan. 21, according to Business Wire.
The testing locator, provided by Healthvana — a website that locates nearby STI testing centers and allows users to schedule appointments and check their results online — is linked at the bottom of Tinder’s new section on sexual health, according to Time Magazine.
The addition of the health safety section is especially significant, because Cornell’s sexual health education is lacking. according to Matthew Indimine ’18, co-chair of the Student Assembly Health and Wellness committee.
“Even if students know of resources available, they most likely haven’t had a ‘sexual health education’ lecture in years,” Indimine said. “I haven’t since the ninth grade.”
In 2014, incidents of sexually transmitted diseases — predominantly among young adults, the demographic that Tinder targets — increased by as much as 27 percent, according to the Center Disease for Control.
Tinder lead sociologist Jessica Carbino said in a statement she hopes other dating sites will add features similar to Healthvana’s.
“An important aspect of any healthy relationship — whether formed on Tinder or otherwise — is ensuring sexual health and safety,” Carbino said. “We would be delighted to see other major social networks follow in our footsteps.”
Students said they appreciated Tinder’s efforts to encourage users to receive testing for STIs and use protection.
“People could be very inclined to lie about their STD or STI status,” said Rahul Rajagopalan ’18. “As that is a form of sexual assault, I believe that it is important to prevent this as much as possible.”
Juliana Batista ’16, the 2015 chair of Cornell’s International AIDS Awareness Week, said she thinks Tinder could make the STI testing locator more well known. Neither she nor Rajagopalan had heard of the feature.
Batista also criticized Tinder and Healthvana’s use of the term STD, which she said is associated with more stigma because of the word ‘disease.’
“Many people prefer to call them STI’s and Tinder seems behind the curve on understanding terminology,” Batista said.
The Healthvana feature may also need some debugging, according to Batista.
“If you type in an Ithaca zip code like 14850 or 14853, it neglects to return Gannett and Planned Parenthood, both of which are nearby STI testing locations,” Batista said.