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Heath officials in Hawaii are blaming online dating for the state’s surge of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Aloha State Health officials have reported a significant increase in chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

The number of gonorrhea cases previous year rose 5 percent to more than 580,000, the highest number reported to the center since 1991.

There were a total of 583,405 cases of gonorrhea reported nationally in 2018, making it the second most common notifiable condition in the U.S. Unlike the steady rise in reported cases of chlamydia, cases of gonorrhea jumped a dramatic 82.6 percent since its “historic low” in 2009.

In 2018, Pennsylvania had 128 cases of early syphilis reported in women of childbearing age, representing the highest reported number in more than two decades.

According to Gerald Hasty, of Hawaii’s Department of Health Harm Reduction Services Branch, the rise of online dating could be associated with this rise in the number of STDs across the nation.

State officials attributed the spike to the efficiency of online dating, which allows people to meet more people.

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“As people depend on digital means of making connections, it can result in circumstances where they could be more exposed to infection without them realizing it”, Hasty mentioned. “More partners, more possibilities to get infections”.

All three infections were at or near their highest rates in about 30 years, according to the state Department of Health’s Harm Reduction Services Branch.

There has also been decreasing reliance on condoms or prophylactics for protection against acquiring or spreading STDs, officials said. Hasty said this situation “sets the stage for the infections to be spread”.

The higher rates in men, according to the report, “suggests either increased transmission, increased case ascertainment (e.g., through increased extra-genital screening among MSM), or both”. The rise has been steady for the fifth year in a row says the CDC report.

The CDC published a report on its page on the 8th of this month titled, “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report”. The number of syphillic still births also increased in 2018, from 2017’s 64 to 2018’s 78), and the number of congenital syphilis-related infant deaths rose from 2017’s 13 to 2018’s 16. Newborn syphilis has risen by 40 percent overall with over 1300 cases reported nation-wide says the report.

The CDC said its figures might not capture the true scope of the STD epidemic in the United States because many cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis go undiagnosed and so are not reported to health authorities, the Times reports. The most infectious phase of syphilis is the primary and secondary syphilis.

Male rates of gonorrhea cases rose a similar 17 percent from 2017’s 6,758 cases to 2018’s 7,946, and saw a much greater overall increase of 104 percent since 2014.

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