Craigslist's gay ads give rise to HIV infections

by Will Hall |

(Wikimedia Commons)Craigslist logo seen at the Craigslist World Headquarters in San Francisco, California.

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Two New York University researchers have released findings that Craigslist's personal ads have contributed to a 16 percent increase in HIV infections, the virus that causes the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

The study looked at "the prevalence of HIV over a 10 year period" across 33 U.S. states. Their analysis showed from 1999 to 2008, casual sex hook-ups from the classified ads website resulted in "an average of 6,130 to 6,455 cases of HIV infection" each year adding "$62 million to $65.3 million dollars in annual treatment costs."

Concurrently, Jason Chan and Anindya Ghose, both of NYU's Leonard N. Stern School of Business, found no contribution to the HIV increases from escort services or prostitution offers which also solicit on the site.

However, the Star Tribune reported Craigslist has since dropped the professional escort ads, and offered that it is possible those have "moved surreptitiously into the personal ads." In any case, they say the notice now reads: "Safer sex greatly reduces the risk of STDs (e.g. HIV). Please report suspected exploitation of minors."

Chan told the newspaper that although the study did not differentiate between categories among the personal ads, his "suspicion is most of this is coming from the [men having sex with men] section. We do know that anal sex is a large reason why HIV is spread. It's also prevalent in the gay community. It makes sense that this group is the most likely to be affected," he said.

The study was published by the University of Minnesota's MIS Quarterly, a peer-reviewed management information systems journal.