The growing spread of sexually transmitted disease in Canada may be at least partly the result of the Internet dating boom, and the rapid intimacy that can develop before online couples even meet, some public-health experts say.
The phenomenon seems particularly relevant to middle-aged and older people, who appear to be flooding to dating websites, and are generally less apt to practise safe sex, suggest some analysts.
“You start off when you meet the person with a higher level of intimacy.
You feel like you know them because you’ve had this correspondence, and physical intimacy proceeds a lot faster,” said Dr. “Typically, the more we know someone, the less likely in general we are to think they have an STD….
Chlamydia rates, after falling through most of the 1990s, have jumped 66% since 2000, with more than 87,000 total new cases in 2009.
Following a steady decline in the 1990s, HIV infections also crept up again in the 2000s, while heterosexuals and women specifically made up a burgeoning percentage of new patients, public health agency statistics show.
“By the time you meet and start having sexual activity, perhaps you have this sense that you’re really comfortable and you know this person well,” said Pam Krause, executive director of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre.
According to a Leger Marketing survey last year, a quarter of Canadians have taken part in Internet dating, and 16% had sex with someone they met online. Jill Grimes, author of the 2008 book, Seductive Delusions — How Everyday People Catch STDs, said patients and friends repeatedly tell her about the unique dynamics of encountering someone online.
Denis Allard, the province’s deputy chief medical officer of health, told the CBC. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer, stressed he has not done research on the correlation and that there are a number of factors at play.