Tinder, a smartphone dating app, is popular with the college crowd. In January, the app announced a new free STD-testing clinics locator for users to anonymously collect the information necessary to get themselves tested.
The new feature is sparking a new type of conversation among its users.
Not only does the feature provide information about free STD testing clinics in the area, users can also compare local doctors and filter results to fit their specific needs, like as options “LGBT Focus” and “Women’s Focus.”
There were 60,648 reported cases of Chlamydia and 9,658 cases of Gonorrhea in New York State in 2013, within the ages of 15-24 according to the Center for Disease Control or CDC. With Tinder reaching nearly 50 million users, could the app take the stress out of getting testing?
Plattsburgh State Health Education and Outreach Coordinator Rhema Lewis thinks so.
“I hope so, I think we have a generation of students that are aware of the fact that STI’s are prevalent,” she said. “That gives the ability to really just do it on their own. They don’t have to contact anyone, and I think that is a really great feature to have.”
Lewis said she thinks the app’s new feature and the anonymity of it could eliminate stress from the testing process for some users.
“That gives the ability to really just do it on their own, they don’t have to contact anyone and i think that a really great feature to have,” she said.
Students can chose from several different locations including Planned Parenthood, The Alliance for Better Health and the PSUC Health Center.
PSUC students are reacting to the feature positively.
PSUC junior international business major Madelyn Villanueva has been using Tinder for two weeks and first heard about the app through her roommate.
“You should get it, there’s weird people and funny bios,” she said. “So I said ‘OK,’ why not?”
Villanueva said being cautious and aware when dealing with possible health issues is very important.
If the student is worried about anonymity, Lewis said the Health Center is a completely safe option.
“Nobody knows what your appointment is for,” she said.
Testing on campus is a simple process for medical services at the PSUC Student Health and Counseling Center assistant director Susan Sand.
“PSUC students who are interested in screening, who have no symptoms, can call student health and make an appointment,” she said. “Students, though that are having symptoms of an STD should just come in during our walk-in hours.”
It is required by PSUC for each student to have medical insurance, whether it’s private or through the university.
“Students come in, and we do screenings based off a urine specimen, which eliminates the need for an exam,” Sand said. “You don’t need an exam, obviously that appeals to students very much.”
The Health Center sends the specimens to an outside laboratory and the lab bills the student’s medical insurance. There is no charge for a student and is completely covered by the student health fee.
Although the typical urine specimen STD screen covers Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, it is encouraged to have other screens as they see fit, including HIV-testing.
Sand said the majority of students that come in for STD screening also take part in HIV-testing.
“Here in Student Health, we perform HIV testing with a blood sample that’s sent to an outside laboratory, and again, that laboratory bills the student.
PSUC students take the testing opportunities that are given to them.
“They do. I know from working with the Health Center that their testing slots are always full. We host events at least once a semester,” Lewis said.
Students can be anxious to receive the results of their screenings, but Sand said the Health Center has seen an excellent turn-around time with results.
“It’s usually 24 hours for HIV results,” she said. “A little bit longer, more like three-five business days for the STD screening.”
Sand said PSUC students are being very proactive and that screening are more convenient now because of new technology.
However Lewis said, keeping the conversation going is very important and that PSUC holds events to increase awareness like the “Get yourself tested event,” which allows student to have an STD screening while enjoying an afternoon of activities, taking some of the stress out of the situation.
“It’s sort of set up like a carnival,” she said. “You come in, you eat, have fun and get yourself tested.”
Lewis thinks that events like that are increasing testing among students.
“I think while we have students who are very aware we also have students who think that it can never be them,” she said.
Email Madison Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org