Breaking News in Urology

August, 2000
Abstracted from Various Articles

Sex, Cyberspace and STD's
Taking a shot at defining the role of the Internet
in the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

In this world almost entirely connected by the World Wide Web, the search for casual sex is no longer confined to nightclubs, coffee shops, and street corners. It has moved online.

Two articles in the July 26, 2000 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association discussed the role of the internet in the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. These pickup sites were described as "vortexes of high-risk sexual behavior ... capable of generating outbreaks of disease."

The first article aimed "to compare risk of STD transmission for persons who seek sex partners on the Internet with risk of persons not seeking sex partners on the Internet." This article concluded that "clients who seek sex using the Internet appear to be at greater risk for STD's than clients who do not seek sex on the Internet."

However, the Internet has also a redeeming value when it comes to STD's. Having the power to communicate to thousands upon thousands of people at once, the Internet can also be a tool for instruction and education that can help in intervention and prevention of such diseases. Dr. Klausner of the San Francisco Department of Public Health stated "Clearly, the Internet can be a powerful public health tool."

Consequently, with the privacy concerns associated with Internet Service Providers, or ISP's, deploying some type of instructional or preventive strategy is virtually impossible. Public health efforts must continually adapt disease control procedures to new venues, carefully weighing the rights to privacy vs. the need to protect public health

Journal of the American Medical Association

Center for Disease Control

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