A study in the December issue of the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases shows that gay men who use the Internet to find sex partners are no more likely to have unprotected anal sex than gay men who meet their partners in other venues. Earlier studies have connected gay men who use the Internet to find sex with a greater risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection. But the study, conducted by researchers in Atlanta of more than 150 sexually active gay men, showed that incidences of unprotected anal sex, which carries the highest risk of HIV infection, were about the same among Internet and non-Internet users.
However, the study did find that gay men using the Internet to meet sex partners had a higher risk for other STDs, mostly because they also were shown to be more likely to engage in fisting and group sex, have anonymous sex in bathhouses and sex clubs, and use recreational drugs. "Internet sex-seeking may not be associated with having unprotected anal sex or having relatively greater number of sex partners," the researchers concluded. "However, Internet sex-seeking [gay] men may have a modestly enhanced risk of STD acquisition and transmission."