Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Like" Button for Syphilis

It seems young people in the Sunderland, Durham, and Teesside areas of Britain are four times more likely than their peers to have contracted syphilis, and one health expert thinks he has an explanation. Prof. Peter Kelly, Teesside director of public health, says that heightened syphilis risk corresponds to the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook. He and his staff discovered that many young people (especially young women) who live in these areas use Facebook to arrange casual sex encounters. Whether these are posted as Facebook Events is unclear. And according to Facebook, so is Prof. Kelly's research. "The assertion that Facebook is responsible for the transmission of syphilis is ridiculous," said a company spokesperson. "Facebook is no more responsible for STD transmission than newspapers responsible for bad vision. Today’s reports exaggerate the comments made by the professor, and ignore the difference between correlation and causation." Maybe so. And Prof. Kelly does mention social networking sites in general, not just Facebook. But unless I'm reading this wrong, I believe Facebook is admitting that staring at it too long in dim light will indeed give you syphilis. More details here.

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