Washington - A new study has suggested that men don't always look for sexual hookups from online dating but they also seek long-term romance, which are more likely to engage in protected sex.
If a gay or bisexual man seeks sex or dating online, the type of partner or relationship he wants is a good indicator of whether he'll engage in safe sex.
It found that gay men seeking long-term romance online are more likely to engage in safe sex than men who want a sexual encounter only.
This is valuable information because it helps HIV-prevention counselors design more effective sexual health interventions, said Jose Bauermeister, assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and director of the Sexuality and Health Research Lab.
He said that dating sites for gay men are no longer reserved only for sexual hookups and that many sites today exist for men who also seek love, intimacy and long-term romance.
Unfortunately, even today the assumption is that gay men use the Internet solely to find sex, and that HIV-prevention counselors don't talk with clients about love and relationships, he said.
"The takeaway here is just because I go online doesn't mean I'm engaging in risk," said Bauermeister.
"It's what kind of partner I'm looking for (that matters), so for HIV prevention purposes if I were going to try to develop an intervention, I need to take that into account," he said.