Back in the mists of time, when the internet was something you could only access by sacrificing your phone using a dial-up connection, if you visited the dating sites as they were then, you never knew what little infection you’d be picking up and delivering to your hard-drive via the land-line.
How times have changed.
In Nova Scotia, Public Health officials are using online dating facilities as a medium to warn people of sexually transmitted disease, specifically syphilis.
Halifax, the one that is capital and 5,500 km2 of East Coast Nova Scotia, not the one in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, has reported 28 cases of syphilis so far this year. The infection which, if left untreated, can lead to permanent damage of vital organs.
Following investigations, the source of the disease has been traced back to an online dating site, in many of the instances of the outbreak. Hence the urgency in putting together a matchmaking site advertising campaign that will encourage the men to get tested if they show symptoms and to warn women to take extra precautions if meeting for nothing more than a casual, one-off relationship using the dating site membership.
One meeting may be all it takes, as transmittal can occur through oral, anal or straight-forward biblical sex.
a one-off date is sometimes enough
As there are no signs of the cases declining, the Public health department are highlighting the symptoms:-
• unexpected hair loss,
• nasty little rash,
• glandular swelling (throat), or
• rheumatism-like aching of the muscles and/or joints
However, these symptoms, unlike the bug that used to infect your hard-drive, can disappear of their own volition, leaving the victim under the impression that the disease has gone. Your body has only dealt with the external signs, though; the root cause of the problem still lies hidden and will remain beneath to attack the heart and brain, if not treated with antibiotics.
After trying other, more recognised, methods to promote awareness of the condition, the Public Health department no longer ‘believe [their] traditional methods are going to work’ and that using dating sites, where the target market gather by choice, is perhaps the best hope of spreading the word about syphilis.
As a ‘challenging type of outbreak to manage’ and the sexual behaviour that leads up to its transmission, the health department are hoping that dating site members get the message before the disease goes viral.