Objectives: To assess HIV and syphilis infections among men who have sex with men who use the internet (MSMUI) and their risk behaviors.
Methods: In 2007, 429 MSMUI were recruited via the internet in Beijing and Urumqi, China. A questionnaire was administered, and a blood specimen was collected and tested for HIV and syphilis.
Results: Median age of participants was 25 years. Median number of lifetime sexual partners was 10. 90.7% ever had sex with a cyber friend. Rates of condom use in the last oral, insertive, and receptive anal sex were 9.1%, 66.3%, and 60.4%, respectively. Infection rates of HIV, syphilis, and HIV/syphilis coinfection were 4.8%, 11.4%, and 1.7%, respectively. Factors associated with HIV infection were being < or =24 years [odds ratio (OR) = 2.85, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.05 to 7.75], syphilis positive (OR = 4.78, 95% CI: 1.68 to 13.58), used non-water-based liquid as lubricant (OR = 8.03, 95% CI: 1.03 to 62.52), and having bleeding gums or oral ulcers during condom-free oral sex (OR = 3.17, 95% CI: 1.13 to 8.88).
Conclusions: MSMUI engage in high-risk sexual behaviors and have a high prevalence of HIV and syphilis infections. The internet is the predominant venue for the majority of MSMUI to find sexual partners. It is urgent to implement effective intervention programs targeting this group.