Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Internet as a medium to seek partners among men who have sex with men
by Rice, Shelia Renee, Ph.D., The University of Texas School of Public Health, 2008, 211; 3297831
Abstract (Summary)

While there are reports of developing sexual relationships on the Internet (I) among MSM, there are few reports that have examined the process of developing sexual relationships on the I and comparing to that in real life (IRL). This study examines the process to provide insight into how MSM make decisions about courtship, engages in negotiations for sex, and choose sexual partners and examines the comparative sexual risks taken between I vs. IRL negotiation. This self-selected convenience sample at a national level (n=1001) of MSM recruited through the I, systematically explored the different steps, the process of courtship in a flow chart of I and IRL dating to portray the process of filtering, courtship and/or negotiation for sex. Risk behaviors in both environments are presented along with interactions that create predictable sequences or "scripts". These sequences constitute 'filtering' and 'sexual positioning'. Differences between I & IRL suggest discussion of HIV/STD status to have consistent differences for all variables except 'unprotected sex' meaning no condom use. There was more communication on the I in regards to self revealing information or variables relating to reducing risks which enable 'filtering' (including serosorting). Data indicate more steps in the I process, providing more complex, multiple steps to filter and position with regard not only to HIV/STD risk but also to negotiate position for complementary sexual interest. The study established a pattern of MSM's courtships or negotiation for sex and a pattern of acquisition, and more I negotiation. Data suggest negotiation opportunities which could lend to intervention to advise people how to negotiate safely.

Previous studies have reviewed MSM and drug use. This is a study to review the process of drug use associated with sexual behavior regarding the Internet (I) and in real life (IRL) using a self-selected, convenience sample of MSM (n=1001) recruited nation-wide through the Internet. Data on MSM and drugs illustrate the Internet being used as a tool to filter for drug use among MSM. MSM's drug use in both environments highlights the use of sexual performance drugs with an IRL pursuit of intimacy or negotiation for sex. IRL encounters were more likely to involve drug use (both recreational and sexual performance-enhancing) than Internet encounters. This may be due to more IRL meetings occurring at bars, clubs or parties where drug use is a norm. Compared with IRL, the Internet may provide a venue for persons who do not want to use drugs to select partners with similar attitudes. This suggests that filtering may be occurring as part of the internet negotiation. Data indicated that IRL persons get drunk/high before having sex in past 60 days significantly more often than Internet participants. Age did not alter the pattern of results. Thus drug filtering is really not recreational drug filtering or selecting for PNP, but appears to be situationally-based. Thus, it should perhaps be seen as another form of filtering to select drug-free partners, rather than using the Internet to specifically recruit and interact with other recreational drug users.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ross, Michael W.
Commitee: Shegog, Ross, Tortolero, Susan
School: The University of Texas School of Public Health
Department: Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences Management
School Location: United States -- Texas
Source: DAI-B 69/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Public health
Keywords: Internet, MSM, Men who have sex with men
Publication Number: 3297831
ISBN: 9780549490647
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