Tuesday 23 January 2018

UN finds dating apps are responsible for HIV increase in Asia

Close up of a man using mobile smart phone
Close up of a man using mobile smart phone

Sasha Brady

New research by the United Nations has found dating apps responsible for the increase in HIV cases amongst teenagers in Asia.

The study, which covered a two-year period, showed the highest increase in HIV cases was in children and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 19 - the second highest age group to use paid for dating services.

The official estimate of those living with HIV is around 220,000 - although the exact figure is thought to be much higher.

Fewer than half of that number is receiving treatment, while deaths figures have risen every year for the past decade.

The report finds that dating apps helped spread an HIV epidemic among teens in the Asia-Pacific region by facilitating more casual sex. Effectively, they created networks where infections could quickly spread -- one HIV-positive person could easily spread the infection to numerous people.

The epidemic is spreading fastest among gay males, who are frequently stigmatised in the region - the apps give them a chance to date without the threat of prison or social isolation. Combine that with inadequate sex education and a lack of teen HIV testing and you have legions of young men eager to find sex without understanding the risks.

According to The Guardian, another contributing factor to the increased levels of HIV in these areas and age groups is that adolescents are less like to seek treatment - especially those who are under 18 and need parental consent and are fearful of being reprimanded.

Other groups where HIV is prominently growing include those who work in the sex trade, people who inject with needles and young transgender people.

The Philippines has seen new HIV cases in teenagers doubled over the last four years, while young men in Bangkok have a one in three chance of contracting the disease.

The findings from the report are set to threaten the UN’s goal to end the global Aids crisis by 2030.This was put in place after a vast drop in the cases of Aids in Africa over the last 15 years.

The UN now wants more comprehensive sex education as well as lowering the age that teenagers can take a HIV test without parental consent.

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