If I didn’t know better, I’d think the Aberdeen paper was trying to make us bloggers out to be evil. AAN’s Shannon Marvel posts a story this afternoon blaming South Dakota’s surge in sexually transmitted diseases on the Internet!
Sexually transmitted diseases are making their biggest comeback since the 1970s in South Dakota, and the Internet is contributing to the problem.
At least that’s the take of the state epidemiologist.
…What I think is driving this new outbreak is the use of social media to make contacts, and people look for sex,” [state epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger] said.
“It works in all directions — for men and women, boys and girls, but also men for men. People often don’t know the names of the people that they are having sex with, so it’s really hard to follow up on that” [Shannon Marvel, “Social Media Leads to Spike in STD Numbers, State Epidemiologist Says,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.08.04].
Marvel also got Spike in her headline. Middle school readers, I welcome your giggles.
For what it’s worth, it’s not my fault! Brown County, a hotbed of blogging, does not appear to be following the trend:
Kightlinger said in a phone interview that while state numbers are increasing quickly, the problem isn’t so drastic in Brown County.
“Brown County hasn’t really been in the lead on this,” Kightliner said. “So far, for example, the county has had three or less cases of gonorrhea this year. For chlamydia, it’s 53, and syphilis it’s three or less, but in the latent phase so it’s not infectious” [Marvel, 2015.08.04].
Clap-clap for Brown County… or should I say no clap?
Kightlinger may have some science on his side (read this 2013 article with a set of links, this 2013 study finding Craigslist increased HIV 16%). However, there is also evidence that public health officials can use social media to fight the spread of STDs. You just have to go where the action is.
But you know what they say: social media don’t give people STDs; people give people STDs.