Objective: To describe the process of Internet chatting, and subsequent dating and sexual (risk) behaviour among Dutch men who have sex with men (MSM), and to compare the demographic profile of the Internet sample with a traditional Dutch MSM sample. Design: A self-selected anonymous Internet sample. Methods: Enrolment via a prominent gay chat room. Potential respondents were asked to complete an online questionnaire about chatting and dating, and sexual (risk) behaviour with their last date via chatting (e-date). In 26 days, 5302 questionnaires were returned. Of these, 4984 were evaluated as reliable and were used in the analyses. Results: Eighty-two per cent chatted at least once a week, 88% had ever dated through chatting, and of these 89% had had sex with one or more e-dates. With respect to the last e-date, almost 50% had had anal sex with their last e-date, and 15% reported unprotected anal sex. Especially among HIV-positive men, a high percentage of unprotected anal sex was reported (39%). After correcting for the disclosure of HIV status, this percentage remained twice as high compared with HIV-negative and never-tested men (28 versus 14%). Compared with a traditional MSM sample, the Internet sample was significantly younger, and comprised more non-Dutch and bisexual men, whereas the level of sexual risk behaviour with casual partners was comparable. Conclusion: The Internet is a popular new meeting place for MSM, and attracts men with a different demographic profile. The level of risk behaviour warrants that opportunities for interventions on the Internet are explored, with special attention to HIV-positive chatters.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2005|