Researchers link HIV influx to Craigslist

Zoe Thompson, Contributing Writer

A new study published in MIS Quarterly has linked an increase in HIV incidences with the growing popularity in personal ads on Craiglist for casual sex. The study, “Internet’s Dirty Secret: Assessing the Impact of Online Intermediaries on HIV Transmission,” was led by NYU professor Anindya Ghose and University of Minnesota professor Jason Chan.

In the study, researchers noted an increase in HIV cases in the past 10 years that correlated with the emergence of major personal ad sites, including Craigslist.

Ghose said the correlation between HIV and the advertisements was significantly higher than what he expected.

“What was most interesting is the finding that the entry of Craigslist was correlated with an average increase of 15.9 percent per year in the number of HIV infections compared with what would have been expected had it not launched,” Ghose said.

Ghose said they noticed an increase in HIV reports following Craigslist’s arrival on U.S markets.

“We found that the listing website was associated with between 6,130 and 6,455 extra infections a year throughout the country,” Ghose said.

As a means of prevention, NYU has raised awareness regarding the importance of informed sexual conduct and casual sex, through movements such as Sexual Respect.

CAS freshman Felicia Mendoza said the spread of STDs is facilitated by the amount of available social media for dating.

“In college there is a lot of freedom and especially in the city, it’s hard to find people,” Mendoza said. “That’s why, despite the risks, students are drawn to dating sites like Craigslist. If STDs aren’t already spreading rapidly, they definitely will.”

Stern junior Caterina Cestarelli said she found the results of the study to be predictable.

“I think Craigslist is just particularly sketchy,” Cestarelli said. “I think it has kind of a reputation for not being reliable.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 1o print edition. Email Zoe Thompson at [email protected]