A sharp rise in HIV infections around Fairbanks, Alaska has been traced to military men finding sex partners via online hookup sites "like Adam4Adam and Craigslist," according to public health data reported in the Army Times.
The outbreak involves nine cases between Jan. 1, 2011, and Jan. 31, 2012. ... From 2007 through 2010, the number of HIV cases reported in the Fairbanks area was fairly stable at two to four a year, so "this is a very unusual spike," said Susan Jones, a state epidemiology official.
Of the nine people infected in 2011, eight were men who had sex with other men, according to the agency. Seven were either in the Army in Fairbanks or had sexual partners in the military. Most were young. Four were under the age of 20. Seven of the men reported meeting sex partners online.
Last summer, epidemiology workers traveled to Fairbanks to interview the people involved and found that many of them had used websites like Craigslist and Adam2Adam to locate what she described as "anonymous" sex partners in the Fairbanks and Fort Wainwright area.
Sex-seeking Internet sites have been a major conduit for high-risk sex linked to STD infection in the Lower 48, Jones said. This is the only major outbreak associated with them in Alaska she knows of, she said.
The military requires HIV testing of active duty soldiers every two years. That's in addition to mandatory testing before and after deployments. Troops that seroconvert can continue on active duty but cannot serve overseas. The Navy has generally had higher seroconversion rates than other service branches.
In previous years, there were anecdotal reports from HIV+ troops across the military who complained that results of HIV contact tracing and public health investigations were used to dismiss them under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."