Sexual risk taking among young internet-using men who have sex with men

Am J Public Health. 2008 Jun;98(6):1059-67. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.111070. Epub 2008 Apr 29.


Objectives: We examined the characteristics of young Internet-using men who have sex with men (MSM) and risks associated with seeking sex online, offline, or through both strategies.

Methods: Data were obtained from MSM aged 18 to 24 years who completed a 45-minute online survey regarding sex and Internet use in the preceding 3 months.

Results: Significantly more Internet-using MSM who had met sexual partners both online and offline (43%) reported unprotected anal intercourse than did those who had met sexual partners exclusively online (29%) or offline (34%). MSM who met sexual partners exclusively offline reported the fewest partners but the greatest proportion of partnerships involving unprotected anal intercourse (49%). Meeting sexual partners both online and offline (odds ratio [OR]=3.38-58.42) and being drunk (OR=1.57) or high (OR=2.24) increased the odds of having more sexual partners. The same factors increased the odds of having unprotected anal intercourse (online and offline sexual partners, OR=1.60; being drunk, OR=1.43; being high, OR=1.61).

Conclusions: Risky sexual behavior was prevalent among all of the study subgroups. Our findings suggest that online sex seeking is associated with greater numbers of sexual partners but neither promotes nor discourages unprotected anal intercourse. Regardless of where sexual partners met, being drunk and high were significant risks for unprotected anal intercourse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bisexuality*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States