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The use of Craigslist posts for risk behavior and STI surveillance


The rise and associated risks of using the internet to find sexual partners among men who have sex with men (MSM) has been noted by many researchers.1,2 The anonymity and relative ease of finding partners on the internet has facilitated casual sexual encounters that can encompass a variety of unsafe sexual practices, from anonymous partners to ‘Party and Play’ activities (PNP), slang for illegal drug use, unprotected sex, group sex and so on. These anonymous sexual encounters make it more difficult for public health officials to notify exposed partners. In addition, detailed data regarding risk behaviors are generally obtained via conventional survey techniques, which are expensive to conduct. Thus, a general method of empirically deriving large scale, location-specific behavioral data could be immensely useful in understanding or anticipating STI outbreaks. Craigslist is a website specializing in online classified advertisements around the world. Our hypothesis is that Craigslist contains rich behavioral data regarding MSM communities and that such information can function as proxy for external prevalence rates for diseases (that is, HIV/AIDS).


This paper describes a novel method of obtaining large scale, geographically diverse behavioral data about Men who use the Internet to seek Sex with Men (MSM) by examining anonymous Craigslist message posts to predict HIV/AIDS.

Submitted by Magou on