OPINION: The Sex Files – Hawaii Craigslist Edition
by Nate Gaddis
Warning: somewhere within the following story, there exists a four-letter word. You may have to work a bit to locate it, but please don’t scold us if you do. -Ed.
It’s time for another STD freak-out in Hawaii, as the state Department of Health has issued a warning about a possible syphilis outbreak on the Big Island.
Unlike the faux-controversy surrounding “super gonorrhea” making its US debut right here in the islands, the syphilis warning is acutely real, making statewide headlines after five cases were reported in Kona.
Although curable by antibiotics, syphilis symptoms (everything from sores on the genitals to sore throat and fatigue) aren’t always aggravating enough to get diagnosed properly.
Left untreated, syphilis, which is typically transmitted during unprotected sex, can lead to rashes, paralysis and dementia. In some cases it proves fatal.
The disease is known for having affected both famous and infamous figures of world history, tormenting the likes of Howard Hughes, Adolf Hitler, and Napoleon Bonaparte.
Back here on the present-day Big Island, talk of the STD has made its way onto Craigslist.
In case you’re not familiar, Craigslist is a nonprofit classified ad site where you could, if so inclined, purchase a haunted coffee grinder, or a 1995 Pontiac Grand Am named “Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ.”
The site also provides a popular venue for casual hookups, and the current STD flare-up has some users on alert, posting warnings to fellow craigslisters.
As one user put it, “as long as even a few people see this, it’s fine by me. i have all day to continue putting these up until EVERYONE gets the point that we gotta be safe out here.”
Another warns “Sounds like a good time to lay low and if need be get tested… Just Sayin..”
The notes represent a sprinkling of caution amidst a message board overflowing with the promise of a night/weekend to remember.
Although photos are sparse (limited mostly to male members), intentions on the site are definitely clear, if not always well-written. Take for instance, the creatively worded posting by one female user “excepting applications for fwb (sic).”
We assume “fwb” doesn’t mean “friends with books.”
There is of course the occasional epic-fail at romance, as demonstrated by one male poster “Looking for a girl who likes to be used.”
Although some ads can sound downright demeaning, there appear to at least be a few cheerful, enviably optimistic users declaring things like “It’s my birthday!!!”
But whether you find love through an online listing or your local church choir, it’s worth remembering that syphilis (and many other STDs) are both treatable and easily detected through a simple blood test.
Medical professionals will gladly tell you though that the more casual encounters you have, the greater your overall risk for catching something other than a thrill.
Maybe Craigslist is in fact best used for finding non-sexual gatherings like “manhood camping.“