Online hookups don’t always lead to unsafe sex

May 24th, 2011 - 4:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 24 (IANS) If a gay or bisexual man seeks sex or a date online, the type of partner or relationship he wants is a good indicator of whether he will engage in safe sex.

Gay men seeking long-term romance online are more likely to engage in safe sex than men who want a sexual encounter only, a study shows.

This is valuable information because it helps HIV-prevention counsellors design more effective sexual health interventions, says Jose Bauermeister, assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, who led the study.

Bauermeister says that dating sites for gay men are no longer reserved only for sexual hookups and that many sites today exist for men who also seek love, intimacy and long-term romance, according to a Michigan statement.

Much of the literature about online dating looks at the sex-only encounter, which is “predictably unsafe,” Bauermeister says. Not much research exists about the other categories of online dating and how they associate with risk behaviour.

In one study, men who reported seeking hookups only engaged in more unprotected sex than men who reported only looking for romance online.

“It’s interesting because as a test counsellor if you have five or 10 minutes, you need to talk about how to include conversations about love,” Bauermeister said.

“If you aren’t hooking up very often and looking for Mr. Right, you may be engaging in very particular behaviours that decrease your risk of HIV,” he added.

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