Health commissioner debunks false data on STDs in Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- A story about the most and least safe cities for online dating is all over social media.

The chart, posted online at and, shows Buffalo ranking as the most dangerous city to online date.

The problem? The data is wrong.

The information was compiled by staff at and

The publishers report they took data from the CDC, the Census, and the FBI. They combined STD rates and violent crime data to determine a safety score, but Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein has a problem with what they came up with.

Their information showed Buffalo had around 21,000 STD cases within a year. However, the the highly vetted surveillance data the NY Health Department has shows Buffalo with only around 5,000 cases.

“We don’t have more STDs than New York City or many other cities. I mean we do have high STD rates, but other large metropolitan rates also struggle with high STD rates,” the health commissioner tells us.

Burstein says the STD rates shown on the chart are highly inflated .

From a larger perspective, Burstein says there is a connection between STDs and violent crime. She referred to it as the “social determinants of health.”

For example: if you live in a low income neighborhood, you may have a harder time getting access to sex education or contraception. Additionally, lower income neighborhoods tend to have higher crime rates.

But that doesn’t mean causation she says, which looking at the graph, could be assumed.

“I assume they’re looking at potential for sexual assault, but they really didn’t explain their methods in their study,” Burstein said.

A spokesperson a indicated an error was made in the collection of the STD data for Buffalo, and their chart has since been updated. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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