According to a UN research study, the rise of HIV in Asian teens can be linked to the rise in use of dating apps amongst Asian teens. The report, based on two years’ worth of research, showed that the 10 to 19 year olds had the highest increase in HIV. They are also the second highest age group to use paid dating services. Another point focused on was the fact that HIV was growing fastest among the homosexual community in Asia.
My concern is especially about Indian teens because most parents are uncomfortable with imparting any kind of sex education to children. Our cultural setting does not encourage such discussions to take place. In such an environment, it is a matter of serious concern.
Wing-Sei, a Unicef advisor, noted that dating apps created a central network of men which aided the infection to spread rapidly. The study noted trends in regions where the HIV strategy urgently needed to adapt to the rise in use of mobile dating apps. “HIV is a covert issue, it is very hidden. So data is not available.” Another fear is that some of these men are bisexual and transmit HIV to their female partners. The infected women further the spread of the disease by having sex with other men who might not be in the homosexual network.
Also, adolescents are more unlikely to seek treatment, especially the under 18 age group, for fear of being found out and having to explain. Another fear is of persecution. This is another factor in the increased levels of HIV in Asian teens.
Those living with HIV, in the 10 to 19 age group, in Asia and the Pacific have grown to 220,000. Less than half are getting treatment. Death figures for the past decade have been on a steady yearly rise.
Keeping all this in mind and curbing the use of dating apps is one way to help our children. Another way is to sit them down and have an open discussion about sex and the impact it has on their lives, both short term and long term.
What is also needed is for parents to become comfortable with the topic and to educate themselves in order to give appropriate information to their children.