Positive outcomes for gay men dating online

  1. “A safe way to explore”: Reframing risk on the Internet amidst young gay men's search for identity
  2. Introduction
  3. Associated Data
  4. “A safe way to explore”: Reframing risk on the Internet amidst young gay men's search for identity

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“A safe way to explore”: Reframing risk on the Internet amidst young gay men's search for identity

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We have so much in common and the love we have is real. Thank you poz. I love frank and he loves me equally. Good things can happen here! January 9, , by Emily Land. Dating and hookup apps are an increasingly popular way for gay men to meet new sexual partners. The popular dating app Grindr, for example, boasts over five million users with approximately 10, new users downloading the app daily. Apps and websites that make it easier for men to meet new partners may have the unintended consequence of facilitating disease transmission.

One study , for example, found that men who favored location-based smartphone apps to meet other men for sex were 25 percent more likely to have gonorrhea and 37 more likely to have chlamydia than men who preferred to meet sex partners in other ways such as in bars or clubs. Because apps and websites have easy access to such large numbers of men at risk of acquiring STIs including HIV, they may be well situated to not only empower members to make informed decisions about new partners, but also to promote healthy and safer sex and sexuality.

What role can hookup websites and apps play in the ongoing battle to prevent new infections? Last fall, Hecht, Tim Patriarca, also of San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and Dan Wohlfeiler, a researcher at University of California, San Francisco, convened a meeting of gay dating and hookup app and website owners and public health representatives to discuss how websites and apps can create online environments that improve the health of their members.

Representatives from seven websites and apps participated in the meeting: Since the meeting, Hecht reports that an additional four websites and apps have expressed interest in joining the project. Website and app owners need to be able to efficiently manage profitable businesses while at the same time supporting the health of their users. Public health organizations need to reach at-risk populations with the most effective messages or resources.

And users need to be able to take control of their sexual health and decision making. Participants completed a standardised anonymous questionnaire during their visit to the STI outpatient clinic while waiting for preliminary test results after their consultation with a nurse or physician. The questionnaire elicited information on socio-demographics and HIV status of the participant, the three most recent partners in the preceding six months, and information on sexual behaviour with those partners.

A detailed description of the study design and the questionnaire is provided elsewhere [ 15 , 18 ]. Our main determinant of interest, dating location e. To simplify the terminology of distinguishing the partners per dating location, we refer to them as online or offline partners.

The questionnaire enquired about the HIV status of each sex partner with the question: Perceived concordance in HIV status within partnerships was categorised as; 1 concordant; 2 discordant; 3 unknown.

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The last category represents all partnerships where the participant did not know his own status, or the status of his partner, or both. In this study the HIV status of the participant is self-reported and self-perceived.

The HIV status of the sexual partner is as perceived by the participant. In order to explore possible disclosure of HIV status we also asked the participant whether the casual sex partner knew the HIV status of the participant, with the answer options: Sexual behaviour with each partner was dichotomised as: Concordant lifestyle was categorised as: Casual partner type was categorised by the participants into 1 known traceable and 2 anonymous partners.

We compared characteristics of participants, partners, and partnership sexual behaviour by online or offline partnership, and calculated P values based on logistic regression with robust standard errors, accounting for correlated data. Continuous variables i.

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Random effects logistic regression models were used to examine the association between dating location online versus offline and UAI. Likelihood ratio tests were used to assess the significance of a variable in a model. In order to examine the possible mediating effect of more information on partners including perceived HIV status on UAI, we developed three multivariable models.


In model 2 we added the partnership characteristics age difference, ethnic concordance, lifestyle concordance, and HIV concordance. In model 3, we adjusted additionally for partnership sexual risk behaviour i. We performed a sensitivity analysis restricted to partnerships in which only one sexual contact occurred. No adjustments for multiple comparisons were made, in order not to miss potentially important associations.

As a rather large number of statistical tests were done and reported, this approach does lead to an increased risk of one or more false-positive associations. In total, they reported casual sex partners. The current analysis was restricted to men who reported at least one online casual sex partner and at least one offline casual partner; this concerned men with casual partners: The majority of men The overall median age was 37 IQR 30—43 years.

Most participants Characteristics of men who have sex with men, stratified by self-perceived HIV status, Amsterdam, Compared to offline partners, more online partners were Dutch The HIV status of online partners was more frequently reported as known Participants reported that their online partners more often knew the HIV status of the participant than offline partners Participants more often reported multiple sexual contacts with online partners Sex-related substance use, alcohol use, and group sex were less frequently reported with online partners. Characteristics of sexual partners and partnerships of men who have sex with men, by means of how the participant established the partnership, Amsterdam, In Additional file 1: Table S1 characteristics of partners and partnerships stratified by HIV status of participants are shown.

Univariate and multivariate associations between characteristics of the participant, the partner and partnership, and unprotected anal intercourse, in partnerships among MSM.

Results of random effects modelling. Amsterdam The association between online dating and UAI, with three different reference categories, in partnerships among MSM. Results of multivariable random effects modelling. Other factors significantly associated with UAI were group sex within the partnership, and sex-related multiple drug use within partnership. A sensitivity analysis, including only data of partnerships in which only one sex act had occurred, showed similar results regarding the association between online dating and UAI data not shown.

Only among men who indicated they were not aware of their HIV status a small group in this study , UAI was more common with online than offline partners.

Associated Data

Among HIV-positive men, in univariate analysis UAI was reported significantly more often with online partners than with offline partners. This might be due to a mediating effect of more information on partners, including perceived HIV status on UAI, or to other factors. Among HIV-negative men no effect of online dating on UAI was observed, either in univariate or in any of the multivariate models.

Do Dating Apps Ruin Men's Self-Esteem?

Among HIV-unaware men, online dating was associated with UAI but only significant when adding partner and partnership variables to the model. A key strength of this study was that it explored the relation between online dating and UAI among MSM who had recent sexual contact with both online and offline casual partners. This avoided bias caused by potential differences between men only dating online and those only dating offline, a weakness of several previous studies.

“A safe way to explore”: Reframing risk on the Internet amidst young gay men's search for identity

By recruiting participants at the largest STI outpatient clinic in the Netherlands we could include a large number of MSM, and avoid potential differences in men sampled through Internet or face-to-face interviewing, weaknesses in some previous studies [ 3 , 11 ]. This study had some limitations.

Therefore extrapolation of our results to the general MSM population might not be warranted.