Saturday, May 25, 2013
State Health Officials Use Craigslist To Fight HIV
The Alaska Division of Public Health received reports of a group of people in Fairbanks engaging in casual sex online, some of who were HIV Positive.
This week organizations across the state have been raising awareness about the importance of getting tested for HIV, which include targeting people on online dating sites.
Two weeks ago, the Alaska Division of Public Health received a report of a group of HIV-positive people in Fairbanks who had engaged in casual sex with men they had met on Craigslist, which prompted state officials to target men in the area.
Health officials say using dating sites to engage in anonymous sex is risky, and makes it tougher to locate the people who are infected or who are at risk.
“They don’t want anyone to know what they're doing, and that has opened up a whole new avenue for disease investigation,” said Susan Jones, HIV program manager with the State of Alaska Division of Public Health.
She says the small cluster of people reported in Fairbanks involved individuals who tested negative a while back, but recently tested positive.
Users in the “Men Seeking Men” section of Craigslist in Fairbanks received notice that there had been a recent increase of new HIV cases in the area--it also gave them information on where to get tested.
Division of Public Health officials say it’s the first time they’ve done this type of outreach online to target people and remind them to get tested. They say it was an isolated incident and have no plans to start a campaign online because of their limited resources. Other organizations, including Four A’s, is already using the Internet to help bring awareness to the epidemic.
“You have to use other means and one way of reaching and identifying is through the Internet because that’s where they’re located.”
There will be an increase of testing sites around Anchorage until Sunday. Contact Four A's for more information.