March 15, 2012
March kicks off the spring break season, and trend analysts at Yahoo! report they are already seeing a spike in STD-related online searches.
Carolyn Clark is part of the Yahoo! team that combs the site's search logs for noteworthy trends. She said there is an established pattern of spring break-related searches increasing early in the month, followed by STD-related ones a week or two later.
Though the search engine's logs are anonymous, they do reveal information such as a user's general location, gender, and age. Data show 55 percent of queries for "STD symptoms" come from men, and 25 percent of those conducting searches on the topic are ages 18-24. This month, the top-searched STDs on Yahoo! in order are: herpes, HIV/AIDS, human papillomavirus, genital warts, chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and syphilis. Texas and Virginia are the states from which the most STD searches have originated.
The uptick in STD queries reflects a change in how people access health information, said Clark. "I think people get home, and STDs are still a taboo topic, but the spring-break generation is very familiar with the web," she noted. "They're not calling Mom, they're getting online and trying to find the answers themselves."