The CDC might have a new tool in helping to anticipate and treat the spread of infectious STDs. Internet search giant Google has recently allowed access to their search term data for at least four academic institutions including the University of Illinois – Chicago in order for participation in current studies that attempt to track the spread of infections in real time by monitoring commonly searched terms by geographic areas.
The theory behind this is that by monitoring what people are searching in real time, researchers can correlate this data with new cases of STDs being reported in order to act with local health providers to anticipate new significant outbreaks and alert the population to take added precautions to prevent infection. In theory, if more people in a certain major metropolitan area are searching terms such as “painful urination” as more cases of chlamydia or gonorrhea are being reported to local health authorities, it can be safely deduced that there is a new wave of STD outbreaks moving through the population. This alerts local health authorities that they need to be particularly vigilant in their treatment methods and address the issue quickly to prevent further spread.
This, in addition to regular STD testing and safe sex practices, can help to reduce the number of new sexually transmitted disease infections throughout the country. With the number of new cases of STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea on the rise throughout the United States any new tools available to aid in prevention can prove to be invaluable.
You can help protect yourself as well as any potential sexual partners by getting yourself tested for STDs regularly.