Research conducted at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland found that the introduction of Craigslist online personal advertisements in a particular locale led to a significant increase in HIV-infections in the area. Craigslist, unlike Facebook and other social media sites is localized and is introduced in different areas at different times.
The study found that after Craigslist personal ads were introduced in Florida, HIV-infection rates increased by 13.5 percent during the ensuing four years. And 63 percent of the new HIV-infection cases were African Americans. There was only a small increase in HIV-infection rates among Whites and Latinos following the introduction of Craigslist in the area.
Ritu Agarwal, a professor at the University of Maryland and co-author of the research, stated that the study “underscores the need for broader communication and dissemination of the risks posed by the type of online matching platforms studied here.” He added that the large increase in HIV infections among African Americans “is a bit of paradox because research suggests that the African American community is one which uses the Internet the least, even though the gap is narrowing.”
The study, “Matching Platforms and HIV Incidence: An Empirical Investigation of Race, Gender, and Socio-Economic Status,” has been accepted for publication in the journal Management Science.