Researchers at Hunter College in New York City report in the journal AIDS Care that gay and bisexual male escorts who solicit sex clients on the Internet commonly serve as ad hoc safer-sex educators for their clients. By discussing with clients and potential clients which sex acts they will and will not perform because of the risks of becoming infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, the sex workers ultimately end up passing along safer-sex information and tips on how to protect oneself against STDs, the researchers say.
Hunter psychology professor Jeffrey Parsons, director of the college's Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and Training, and two doctoral students interviewed 46 gay and bisexual male escorts about their lives and sexual behavior with clients. "We were concerned with the stereotypes surrounding male sex workers, since a lot of publications attribute the spread of HIV to them," Parsons said in a press statement. "Many of those studies were conducted with male sex workers on the streets, so we looked at the increase in Internet-based sex workers instead. We found quite the opposite--these men were not being unsafe but were actually educating their male clients about safe sex."
Parsons also discovered that most of the male escorts he interviewed had not turned to sex work because of survival issues or even to earn money to pay for drugs. Most, he says, used sex work to earn extra money for college or graduate school tuition, housing, gym memberships, or vacations.