When ivy tower researchers Anindya Ghose and Jason Chan started trolling New York City personal ads on Craigslist, they were working off a pretty solid hypothesis. Could the seediest of seedy hookup sites coincide with rising HIV rates? You bet.
After looking at data from 33 states over a decade, Ghose and Chan skyrocketed to the top of Craigslist's hate list when they recently published a study concluding that Craigslists' arrival in cities across the nation heralded an average 16 percent increase in HIV infections.
See also: Craigslist murders: A timeline
Now, no one's pretending that the three-date rule has any place in the modern world, but Craigslist itself hasn't been all that popular since folks like Michael John Anderson - nicknamed the original Craigslist Killer courtesy of the Pioneer Press - dealt a substantial blow to its reputation. Kids these days have OkCupid, Tinder, Badoo and Ashley Madison, the not-so-discreet affair site for those out there who are willing to risk not only contracting STDs themselves but passing it on to their spouses.
"We need to be clear, there two or more classifications of these sites out there," says University of Minnesota's Chan, who just wants you to wrap it. "OkC, Christian Mingle are non-casual dating sites and they come with the potential to seek out long term relationships."
Tinder and Grindr - that's another story. "Quick search, quick action applications are more likely to attract groups of users who are looking for casual sex," Chan says. Casual sex and HIV, according to the Craigslist study.
Also of note, the site's overall impact on HIV rates seems to coming from personal ads rather than escort ads. Folks who capitalize on the world's oldest profession to make rent aren't going to risk deadly infections. It's the people who meet up for one night stands for free who contribute to the spread of HIV.
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