Men Seeking Male Sex Partners Online Discuss Sex Practices More Easily

The rates of HIV and STIs are alarmingly high among the gay and bisexual community. In New York City, the rates are even higher, as there is a large concentration of bisexual and gay men in New York. In an effort to combat this health dilemma, researchers have begun to look at ways in which men navigate online dating sites with respect to condom use and HIV/STI disclosure with online partners. The internet is a widely used tool for meeting sexual partners, and men who seek other men through internet sites tend to have more partners than those who do not. This increases their risk for HIV and STIs. Therefore, understanding the dialogue and barriers to disclosure and condom use that unfold on these sites is the first step in taking advantage of the internet as a method of decreasing STIs and increasing awareness and safe sex practices.

To get a clear picture of condom use, disclosure, and internet practices, Christian Grov of the Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York recently interviewed 50 men seeking other male sexual partners through He asked them about their condom use, their level of disclosure, their HIV/STI status, and their level of trust when communicating with other men on the internet. Grov found that for the most part, the men said that they had strict rules about safe sex practices and always used condoms. The men reported that they liked using the internet to meet other men because they could find men who also believed in safe sex practices and that it was easier to navigate discussions about condoms and HIV/STIs through virtual means than it was in person.

When Grov compared the HIV-positive men to the HIV-negative men, he found that the HIV-negative men were much more willing to initiate status conversations and were more verbal about their opinions of HIV-positive men. There was a noticeable level of stigma present in these dialogues, and many of the men avoided talking about it and preferred to just list their status on their profile. “Finally, there was an underlying sentiment that emerged across themes with regard to distrust,” said Grov. It seems that they didn’t trust the statuses they saw online, and cited that as yet another reason they were committed to condom use when engaging in sex with men they met through the internet. Grov hopes these findings open up a conversation between website developers/administrators and intervention specialists about how to use the internet to inform and educate men about the dangers of unsafe sex and increase condom use, especially in the gay and bisexual communities.

Grov, Christian, Linda Agyemang, Ana Ventuneac, and Aaron S. Breslow. (2013). Navigating condom use and HIV status disclosure with partners met online: A qualitative pilot study with gay and bisexual men from AIDS Education & Prevention 25.1: 72-85. Print.

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  • Blake

    March 16th, 2013 at 6:00 AM

    If this is what they need to be honest, then go for it. It is easier to be honest online because you don’t feel like there is someone looking you square in the eye judging you all the time.

  • Randee

    March 18th, 2013 at 3:50 AM

    Why would the HIV negative men be so much more willing to talk? Is it that they know the dangers and want to continue to safeguard themselves? I would have hoped to hear that the men who were HIV positive were also as willing to talk openly about their disease and their thoughts about safe sex. I would hate to know that there were men with HIV out willingly and actively seeking new partners but in no way disclosing that there could be real danger in getting involved with them sexually. HIV positive does not necessarily have to mean a life sentence against being involved with someone but it should at least mean that there is a lot of conversation being generated over this status and that they are being honest with potential partners about the risks of having an intimate relationship with them.


    March 18th, 2013 at 4:59 AM

    Well haven’t such online sites been home to sexual predators for long?While I could see how this discussion could help genuine users,it would fail when it comes to those thy are going to lie anyway.Agree or not to safe sex practices what matters is the other person needs to be honest.And that’s never going to be a certainty when your dealing with the Internet!

  • pat

    March 20th, 2013 at 3:59 AM

    In general, the men that I know who are gay are much more likely to be open and frank about their sexuality and this includes them being able to talk to others about safe sex and safe sex practices. I think that many are still haunted by the notion that they are going to get AIDS just because they are gay, and there are enough of us now who know that this isn’t true but we are not stupid enough to let our guards down either. Any time that you have sex with someone until you know that the two of you are in a completely monogamous relationship and that you have both been tested, then why would you ever have unprotected sex? I don’t want HIV any more than any teenage girl really wants to get pregnant, so that’s why it is so important to be up front about your thoughts and know the reality of playing it safe versus having sex that isn’t protected.

  • robin

    March 20th, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    I would certainly feel a lot more comfortable talking about these things online rather than in person. what these sites (adult dating of course, not craiglist) could also do is give a ‘badge’ to all users who say “safe sex only” on their profile. they could maybe even have ads for condoms and the like. revenue, innovative features, and safe sex. it couldn’t get any better!

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