In addition to love and happiness, you can now find your way to STD testing centers on Tinder. Sounds like a weird feature, right? You don’t know the half of it.
If you go to Tinder’s website, tap “support” on the top, and scroll all the way down to the bottom, click on the link that says “Health Safety,” you will, eventually, discover the STD testing center locator. That new but buried link is there, believe it or not, because Tinder really wanted some billboards taken down. That’s one of the billboards above. So you get why Tinder was concerned.
The story of behind the billboard is particularly crazy. Back in September, Tinder sent a cease and desist letter to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation after a billboard went up showing Tinder hooking up with the always classy chlamydia. (The AHF has a history of putting up some truly amazing billboards.) The organization’s public health director, Whitney Engeran-Cordova, called dating apps a “a digital bathhouse for millennials” where STDs are just a swipe away. They linked hookup culture with apps and both with a rise in STD rates.
Tinder’s lawyer sent a fairly furious letter to the foundation. “These unprovoked and wholly unsubstantiated accusations are made to irreparably damage Tinder’s reputation,” it read, “in an attempt to encourage others to take an HIV test by your organization.” (Grindr, also in the ad, was upset but more measured in its response.)
Now, the billboards and ads with Tinder on them are coming down. With Tinder adding a link to a free STD testing locator from Healthvana to its FAQ page, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation agreed to remove the materials mentioning Tinder.
Even though this particular battle has ended, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Tinder remain far apart on the issues. Engeran-Cordova cited a 2014 CDC report on the rise of STDs, saying, “The CDC also noted the majority of these infections are affecting young people—the demographic that is on their mobile phones all day long.”
Tinder’s official statement also mentioned the study:
While the CDC, who conducted the largest and most credible study on the topic, has never identified any connection that supports the idea that Tinder usage correlates with, let alone causes, an increase in STDs, we’re of course in favor of organizations that provide public education resources on the topic, and we’re happy to do our part in supporting these educational efforts.
It doesn’t look like the fight between dating apps and the healthcare foundation is ending any time soon. But at least Tinder users now have an inconvenient method for finding a place for STD testing. Google also works.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.