Rates of sexualluy transmitted infections have plummeted amid the coronavirus pandemic - but experts are wary that this statistical shift is not what it seems.
The number of people getting diagnosed with chlamydia each week in the US was 53 percent lower through June of this year compared to the same time period last year, according to preliminary figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Syphilis and gonorrhea rates were each down a third compared to last year.
Rates of all three sexually transmitted infections began to return to 'normal' by July as restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 were relaxed and pandemic fatigue set in.
For the first several months of the pandemic's grip on the US, it's likely that people really were dating less and being more cautious amid coronavirus fears.
But more people have signed up for dating apps since coronavirus hit the US, and a surveys suggest sexual activity has stayed stable or even increased among some groups.
Experts worry that the encouragingly lower rates of STIs mask a more disturbing trend: people simply aren't getting tested, for fear of visiting health clinics and risking exposure to coronavirus.
Rates of syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea have all fallen amid the pandemic, but experts are concerned it's not just a reflection of safer sex practices but of fewer people getting tested (file)
From the time of its emergence late last year in China until until late-February, public health officials tried to reassure people that coronavirus was spread primarily - if not entirely - by people with obvious symptoms like coughing or sneezing. The risk that an average American would catch it was low, they said.
Then the CDC announced the first instance of community spread in the US after a California resident tested positive despite having no history of travel to China or contact with people who had been there.
It soon became clear it wasn't just California where coronavirus was spreading, and that it wasn't just symptomatic people spreading it.
The virus was being transmitted, silently, including by people who had no idea or indication they had it.
By March, it seemed the virus was everywhere in metropolitan cities and travel hubs.
Every body became a insurgent. It was clear that mouths and noses were potential carriers of infectious particles. What else might be?