In order to generate a generalizable estimate regarding risk for STI and HIV acquisition in men who have sex with men (MSM) who seek partners on the internet, we examined the sexual practices of MSM who seek partners on the internet compared to MSM who do not, using a community-based sample of MSM from British Columbia.
'Sex Now', a questionnaire that was developed to examine trends in sexual behaviour in gay men, was offered to men attending Gay Pride events throughout the province of British Columbia, Canada between May and August 2004. Logistic regression analysis was used to model the association between seeking sexual partners online and other variables of interest, using odds ratio as the measure of association.
Of the 2,312 MSM who completed the survey, 766 (33.1%) had used the internet to find a partner in the past year. In logistic regression analyses, MSM who found partners on the internet were more likely to have had more than 10 sexual partners in the past year (overall, insertive and receptive), and to engage in sexual activities in public venues. They were also more likely to agree with the statement "I think most guys in relationships have condom-free sex." MSM who sought partners on the net were more likely to be from specific geographic regions, including non-urban regions. Demographic characteristics, HIV status, and use of drugs were not significantly different between men who found partners on the internet and those who did not in multivariable modeling.
MSM who sought to meet partners online had significantly more sexual partners, were more likely to be from specific geographic regions of the province and to have participated in seeking sexual partners in venues known to be associated with HIV and STI acquisition. This study confirms from a community-based sample of MSM that programming for prevention and treatment of HIV and STI need to be available and offered in the cyber setting, to ensure effective messaging and interventions reach this population.