Author(s): Davis M, Hart G, Bolding G, Sherr L, Elford J, Davis M, Hart G, Bolding G, Sherr L, Elford J
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Abstract Access to the Internet has increased dramatically over the past decade as has its use for meeting sexual partners (e-dating), particularly among gay men. Between June 2002 and January 2004, 128 gay/bisexual men living in London were interviewed one-to-one about their experience of e-dating, sexual risk and HIV prevention. The men were recruited both online (through the Internet) and offline (in clinics and the community); 32 men were HIV-positive, 59 HIV-negative, while 13 had never had an HIV test. A key finding was that both identity as well as anonymity are vital to e-dating. Through a process of online filtering and sero-sorting, HIV-positive men are able to meet other positive men for anal sex without condoms. While this does not present a risk of HIV transmission to an uninfected person it does have implications for the potential transmission of other STIs such as syphilis and LGV. Through e-dating, HIV-positive gay men can also avoid abuse, discrimination and sexual rejection. Our findings do not support the suggestion that the attraction of e-dating is that it affords absolute anonymity. We found that the gradual expression of identity is vital for e-dating among gay men. Internet-based HIV prevention campaigns need to take account of the different ways in which gay reflexively manage aspects of their identity online.
This article was published in Cult Health Sex
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research