- The Washington Times - Friday, January 22, 2016

Tinder has added a feature to the popular app that lets users find clinics that test for sexually transmitted diseases, in turn ending for now a stand-off with a California advocacy group that launched a campaign suggesting the dating service helped spread STDs.

As of Thursday, Tinder users who tap through the dating app can find a link to a health safety page that then directs to a STD testing site locator. That same day, the AIDS Health Foundation announced that it will being removing billboards and advertisements across New York City and Los Angeles that have been far from flattering for the app.

“Tinder, Chlamydia, Grindr, Gonorrhea,” the ads read, referring to a similar app geared toward gay men.

When the billboards went up last year, Tinder sent a cease-and-desist letter to the advocacy group asking for their removal. The foundation now plans to put a pause on the campaign, but not without acknowledging in a statement this week that sexually transmitted diseases have indeed been on the rise.

“We are unfortunately now waging an uphill battle on this front,” said Whitney Engeran Cordova, the foundation’s senior director of public health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show that “the majority of these infections are affecting young people — the demographic that is on their mobile phones all day long,” she said.

“This is why it is such welcome news that Tinder will add a Health Safety section with a link to Healthvana, making it easier for people to find testing locations through an easily accessible, modern platform. And we hope to see other dating sites do the same,” she said.

Cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis surged during 2014 for the first time since 2006, the CDC said. During the course of that same year, the number of active monthly Tinder users more than doubled to 17 million.

The app has been downloaded worldwide more than 100 million times as of this month, a little more than three years after its launch, the Irish Examiner recently reported.

“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,” Tinder said in a statement this week.

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