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Study: Gay Internet Hook-Ups May Influence Safe Sex

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A new study shows that the type of relationship that gay and bisexual men seek online may determine whether they will practice safe sex.

Dr. Jose Bauermeister is the director of the Sexuality and Health Research Lab at the University of Michigan. He tells OutQ News that his team wanted to “debunk this notion” that gay men use the World Wide Web just to engage in risky behavior.

Bauermeister says that after interviewing dozens of men across the country and conducting a nationwide survey, they found that gay men seeking a long-term romantic relationship online were MORE likely to engage in safe sex than those only looking to hook-up.

Bauermeister says HIV clinicians should use this information to shape more helpful conversations about love and relationships with their patients.

BAUERMEISTER: I think that we need to better equip HIV test counselors to understand the different relationship dynamics that men experience and then be a little bit more truthful about how that might affect people’s decision-making about condom use.

Bauermeister and his team noted four different categories of online dating, each with their own level of risk: men seeking romance; those just wanting a hook-up; people looking for both love and sex; and others who didn’t want either. They found that young gay men who think about their FUTURE and potential long-term partners are less likely to engage in risky sex NOW.

Bauermeister says this type of behavior is consistent both ON- and OFFLINE, especially now that “both worlds are merging.” Though he admits more testing needs to be completed, the Michigan professor says that assumptions about greater sexual risk-taking on the Internet might be disappearing.

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