The process of seeking sex partners online and implications for STD/HIV prevention

AIDS Care. 2004 Nov;16(8):1012-20. doi: 10.1080/09540120412331292426.


Research has shown that online sex-seeking among men who have sex with men (MSM) is related to elevated risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV infection; however, the process of seeking sex online is not well understood. It is important to understand the process of seeking sex partners in order to determine the best method for reaching MSM at high risk for infection. We report on baseline data from the Smart Sex Quest, an Internet-based STD prevention intervention targeting MSM (n = 1,776, 79% white, mean age = 33 years). Results indicate that older, white, college-educated men solicited sex partners on AOL, whereas was a more frequent choice among younger men. Yahoo was named as a solicitation site more frequently by those with no college education, as were 'bareback' websites devoted to facilitating anal sex without the use of condoms. Following online solicitation, men tended to meet in public restrooms (86%), partners' homes (74%) and their own home (57%). Though results are limited by the self-selected nature of the sample, the data have important implications for online outreach, study recruitment and intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Courtship / ethnology
  • Courtship / psychology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Homosexuality, Male / ethnology
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / transmission
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • Unsafe Sex