Internet’s Dirty Secret: Assessing the Impact of Online Intermediaries on HIV Transmission

MIS Quarterly, 38(4), p. 955-976.

NET Institute Working Paper No. 12-07

48 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2012 Last revised: 28 May 2015

See all articles by Jason Chan

Jason Chan

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management

Anindya Ghose

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 13, 2013

Abstract

Online platforms offer access to a larger social group than is generally available through offline contacts, making the internet an emerging venue for seeking casual sex partners. The ease of seeking sex partners through classified ad sites may promote risky behaviors that increase transmission of STDs. In this paper, using a natural experiment set up, we investigate whether the entry of a major online personals ad site, Craigslist, increases the prevalence of HIV over a 10 year period from 1999 to 2008 across 33 states in the United States. After controlling for extraneous factors, our results suggest that the entry of Craigslist is related to a 15.9 percent increase in HIV cases. Our analysis suggests that the site entry produces an average of 6130 to 6455 cases of HIV infection in the U.S. each year, mapping out to $62 million to $65.3 million in annual treatment costs. In addition, the analyses reveal that non-market related casual sex is the primary driver of the increase in HIV cases, in contrast to paid transactions solicited on the site (e.g., escort services and prostitution) which has a negative relationship with HIV trends. These findings are essential to the understanding of the social routes through which HIV transmission takes place and the extent to which site entry can influence HIV trends. Implications for healthcare practitioners and policy makers are discussed.

Keywords: classified ad sites, HIV, internet, online intermediaries, transmission route, public health

JEL Classification: C23, I18, O33

Suggested Citation

Chan, Jason and Ghose, Anindya, Internet’s Dirty Secret: Assessing the Impact of Online Intermediaries on HIV Transmission (February 13, 2013). MIS Quarterly, 38(4), p. 955-976.; NET Institute Working Paper No. 12-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2164350 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2164350

Jason Chan (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management ( email )

19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

HOME PAGE: http://carlsonschool.umn.edu/faculty/jason-chan

Anindya Ghose

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

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