Washington Post (04.15.12) - Tuesday, April 17, 2012
According to researchers at New York University's Stern School
of Business, the free classified-ad website Craigslist is
linked to a 14 percent increase in the rate of new AIDS cases,
or more than 6,500 new infections each year. They also say the
site is related to a similar increase in syphilis infections.
"The ease of posting feeless ads requesting ... casual sex
encourages the development of promiscuous behaviors within
locations served by Craigslist," wrote Jason Chan and Anindya
Ghose in "Internet's Dirty Secret: Assessing the Impact of
Technology Shocks on the Outbreaks of Sexually Transmitted
Diseases." [PNU editor's note: The study was presented in
Washington at the 2011 Workshop on Health IT and Economics.]
Chan and Ghose compared STD rates in 50 states and the
District of Columbia before and after Craigslist began
operating in each geographic area. The site brought more
promiscuity and infection to most places, they said, noting it
has "brought a culture of sexual openness to the younger
generation not seen since the seventies."
The study's data predate Craigslist's voluntary closure of its
"adult services" section in 2010. However, the researchers
said that the site's personal ads still get more traffic than
other singles services such as Match.com and eHarmony.
"The case of Craigslist's entry leading to more STD infections
serves to show that market participants exert little
regulation over their casual sex behavior despite the known
health risks involved," the authors wrote. However, they also
said that if Craigslist closed down, sexual solicitation would
move to another Internet site. Craigslist did not respond to
requests for comment on the study.