, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 177-183

Men Who Have Met Sex Partners via the Internet: Prevalence, Predictors, and Implications for HIV Prevention

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Abstract

This study examined the prevalence of Internet use for meeting sexual partners among men who have sex with men. The study also examined HIV risk behaviors among men who reported meeting a sexual partner via the Internet. A sample of 609 men was surveyed while attending a gay pride festival in Atlanta, GA. Participants completed a questionnaire assessing demographic information, Internet use, gay acculturation, AIDS knowledge, attitudes about condoms, global substance use, and sexual behavior. A substantial majority of men (75%) reported using the Internet to access gay-oriented web sites. One third of the sample (34%) reported having met a sexual partner via the Internet. Men meeting sex partners online reported higher rates of methamphetamine use. Men meeting sexual partners over the Internet reported having sex with more male partners in the previous 6 months (M = 8.38, it SD = 19.39) compared with men not meeting partners in this manner (M = 3.13, SD = 4.99, p < .001). Men meeting partners via the Internet also reported higher rates of sexual risk behaviors including unprotected anal receptive intercourse (p < .05) and unprotected anal insertive intercourse (p < .01). The high prevalence of Internet use as a method of meeting sexual partners suggests that sexual networks may be forming over the Internet. The Internet therefore provides opportunities for new HIV primary prevention interventions.