Sex, HIV and the Internet: What the Online Profiles of MSM Tell Us about Norms and Expectations Surrounding Sex and HIV

Lawrence S. Young, Emory University

With the increasing pervasiveness of social media, the Internet is becoming an important venue for dating and sex. Not only does it introduce a unique array of opportunities and risks for men who have sex with men (MSM), it presents a new means through which to study sexual behavior. In this study, we collected data on what men report in their online profiles on dating/hookup websites to explore possible geographical differences in cultural norms surrounding sex and HIV (N=5,588). Across the fifteen selected cities, significant differences emerged in reported HIV serotatus and stated preference for safer sex. These patterns suggest important variations – geographically and across demographic groups – and point to a need for targeted, population-specific interventions. With a better understanding of the local factors driving risky sexual behavior, health communication messages could be developed to address the needs and concerns of specific groups.

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Presented in Poster Session 1