Philippe C. Adam, Dean A. Murphy, John B. Seeking sexual partners online is associated with sexual risk-taking among men who have sex with men MSMbut it is not well understood how this use of the Internet is implicated in potential sexual risks. The present study explores whether fantasizing about unprotected anal intercourse UAI during online chatting is associated with UAI with partners met online.
An online survey of MSM in France included assessments of UAI with partners met online, responses to erotic chatting about UAI, intentions to use condoms, attitudes regarding UAI, sexual chat and fantasy UAI with casual partners, alcohol and drug use with sex and biographical characteristics. While intentions to use condoms with casual partners were high, one-third Responding positively to online chatting about UAI was ificantly associated with UAI with partners met online, controlling for intentions, attitudes, behavior and biographic characteristics.
This speaks critically to the assumption that online fantasizing has no behavioral implications, and underscores the importance of human immunodeficiency virus prevention that addresses the dynamics of online chatting.
The popularity and usage of the Internet among sexual chat and fantasy and other men who have sex with men MSM reflects as well as shapes their social and sexual lives. In addition to providing a major source of information and entertainment, online interactions enable virtual gay communities [ 1 ], which are replacing many aspects of traditional gay communities around the world [ 2 ].
For many MSM, including for young men [ 3 ] and men from developing sexual chat and fantasy [ 4 ], the Internet simultaneously is a space for social connection and support, for fulfilling sexual fantasies and maximizing the potential for causal sexual encounters [ 5 ], as well as for finding love and building long-standing sexual relationships [ 6 ].
Cyberspace also offers an expanding repository for human immunodeficiency virus HIV prevention, while at the same time some men use the Internet to find partners for intentional unprotected anal sex i. Over the past decade, the increasing popularity and use of the Internet among MSM in many post-industrial countries has coincided with an increase in rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infection diagnoses in MSM in these resource-rich nations [ 11—15 ].
A substantial of studies have now investigated the potential association between going online to meet sexual partners and sexual risk-taking in MSM [ 16—27 ]. While findings from individual studies have been somewhat mixed, a comprehensive meta-analysis found that MSM who use the Internet to look for sex partners are more likely to engage in unprotected anal intercourse UAI [ 28 ].
However, survey research among MSM in London found that, regardless of HIV status, men who looked for sex partners through the Internet were no more likely to report UAI with non-concordant casual partners they met online rather than off-line [ 23 ]. In-depth interviews with a subsample of participants further showed that some MSM mitigate the sexual chat and fantasy of HIV transmission through the reflexive use of online profiles, which may include expressions of safer sex intentions and enables the filtering of partners of the same serostatus for UAI [ 29 ].
As Davis et al.
Set the scene.
While their own qualitative research suggests that some MSM may engage in the sophisticated construction and interpretation of online profiles to mitigate HIV-transmission risk [ 2930 ], it is sexual chat and fantasy how widespread this relying on online profiles is. Furthermore, the noted filtering and serosorting through information in online profiles occurs outside of direct contact between potential sexual partners, and positions MSM who seek sexual partners online as perfectly rational actors.
This leaves unaddressed what occurs during direct contact, in particular online, which may contribute to sexual practices and HIV transmission risk that differ from what is communicated and understood through online profiles. Ross' thoughtful social theory analysis of sexuality and the Internet provides valuable insights that inform our theorizing of the potential association between online chatting and sexual risk-taking among MSM [ 1 ]. The author further suggests that the expression of desires in semi-hypothetical online sexual chat and fantasy can be seen as an externalizing of sexual fantasy [ 1 ].
Sexual fantasizing as sexual chat and fantasy site of pleasure is a central aspect of human sexuality [ 31 ], and the externalization and responding to sexual fantasies is an important aspect of the erotics of online chatting [ 1 ]. The Internet in particular is an important space to explore aspects of sexuality that are less likely to be expressed in real life, for instance out of fear of embarrassment or rejection [ 32 ].
This may also pertain to explorations of UAI, sexual chat and fantasy reflected in the observed linking of barebacking to the Internet [ 29 ]. Ross further notes that, while the actors in online erotic sexual chat and fantasy may not perceive that they are engaging in real behavior as there is no direct physical contact, the crystallization of their fantasies in the texts that constitute the vehicle for their interaction is akin to the t construction of a script [ 1 ].
Gagnon and Simon [ 3334 ] have shown the importance of scripts in understanding sexual conduct, but it remains to be investigated whether the sexual fantasies that become scripted in the heat of the sexual chat and fantasy of online chatting are related to the sexual practices that MSM engage in with partners met online.
In the present study, we explore the potential association among MSM between engaging in fantasizing about UAI during online erotic chatting sexual chat and fantasy possible sexual risk-taking in real life with partners met online. We hypothesize that such online fantasizing about UAI is associated with a higher likelihood of engaging in UAI, and propose that this association is shaped by the dynamics of online erotic chatting, rather than merely reflecting men's intentions not to use condoms, their favorable attitudes regarding anal sex without condoms or a generally higher likelihood to engage in UAI with casual partners.
These expectations depart from both the assumption that online erotic chatting may not affect sexual behaviors in real life [ 1 ], as well as from the inference that UAI with partners met online reflects intentional barebacking [ 10 ].
Instead, our expectations reflect an alternative understanding of the dynamics of online erotic chatting. In particular, we theorize that through the online sharing of sexual fantasies about UAI, men tly construct possible sexual scripts that can guide expectations and sexual interactions when they meet face-to-face. Dual-systems theorizing of behavior in social psychology assumes that human behaviors are a sexual chat and fantasy function of reflective and impulsive processes [ 3536 ], and each of these systems of processes may be implicated in the possible association between sexual scripts that are generated during online erotic chatting and sexual practices in real life.
One explanation, drawing on the role of reflective processes, is that in the course of the online chat actors decide or form an intention to engage in UAI [ 3536 ]. Another explanation, drawing on the role of impulsive processes, is that UAI in real life can be implicitly produced by the sexual scripts, without intending to enact it, through the automatic activation of behavioral schemata [ 3536 ].
Furthermore, theorizing of social influence processes suggests that UAI with partners met online may reflect a general tendency to behave consistently that guides much of social interaction sexual chat and fantasy 37 ]. In particular, expressing fantasies about UAI during online erotic chatting can unintentionally engender a commitment to this sexual chat and fantasy that shapes consistent future actions, especially when people are less sexual chat and fantasy to engage in reflective decision making [ 37 ], as when sexually aroused [ 38—41 ].
The present study reports findings from an online survey of MSM in France who reported face-to-face sexual encounters with partners they met online, and completed questions on online sexual fantasizing about UAI with potential sex partners. To test the hypothesis that an association between online sexual fantasizing about UAI and UAI with partners met online does not merely reflect barebacking or a generally higher likelihood of practicing UAI, a of control variables are included, namely men's intention to use condoms for anal sex with casual partners, their attitude regarding UAI sexual chat and fantasy casual partners and their practicing of UAI with sexual chat and fantasy partners in general, irrespective of where they met, as well as alcohol and drug use before or during sex, age, education and HIV status.
An online cross-sectional survey sexual chat and fantasy conducted among MSM in France.
After providing informed consent online, participants filled in an anonymous digital questionnaire; no personal information that could identify respondents was collected. The comprehensive questionnaire included questions that addressed a range of themes, including biographical characteristics, sexual relationships, sexual practices and sexual risk-taking with casual partners, sexual motivations and desires, attitudes regarding unprotected sex, condom use, antiretroviral treatment and HIV prevention, as well as use of the Internet to find sexual partners, characteristics of online sexual communication and sexual practices, including sexual risk-taking, with partners met online.
Average completion time was 40 min. Under French regulations, the study protocol was exempt from sexual chat and fantasy ethical review and approval. Nevertheless, the study was conducted in full compliance with the ethics code of the American Psychological Association. A total of visitors accessed the introduction of the digital questionnaire.
Of these visitors, participated in the survey and of these men completed all questions completion rate: The mean age of these men was Most participants Specifically, we asked men to indicate the frequency with which they used online gay dating sites, and the frequency with which they engaged in online erotic chatting with other men; for both questions, ordinal response options ranged from 1 never to 7 several sexual chat and fantasy per day. Participants' responses to online fantasizing about UAI rather than their initiation thereof were assessed to assure that questions were also relevant for men who sexual chat and fantasy not initiate such conversations, but could nevertheless be affected by them.
In case men had no experience with partners fantasizing online about UAI, they were sexual chat and fantasy to indicate how they thought they would respond. Viagramarihuana, party drugs e.
Univariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to investigate associations between UAI with partners met online in the 12 months and responses to online fantasizing about UAI, intentions to use condoms with casual partners, attitudes regarding UAI with casual partners, UAI with casual partners in general, alcohol and drug use before or during sex and biographical characteristics. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to assess the independent association between responses to online fantasizing about UAI and UAI with partners met online, controlling for all other variables.
All participants had visited gay Internet sites that facilitated meeting sexual partners in the 12 months. All participants had also engaged in online erotic chatting in the 12 months; Most men Participants' mean score regarding their responses to online chatting about UAI on average was under the mid-point of the response scale see Table Isuggesting a moderate level of openness to engaging in erotic sexual chat and fantasy about UAI initiated by an online chat partner.
Answers given to the specific items assessing men's responses to online chatting about Sexual chat and fantasy show that one-third Further, most men Nevertheless, almost half of the respondents A quarter Biographical characteristics are described under procedures and participants.
Descriptive statistics of control variables are presented in Table I. In univariate analysis, sexual risk-taking with partners met online in the 12 months was positively associated with participants' acceptance of online chatting about UAI, as expected see Table II. ificant univariate associations with sexual risk-taking with partners met online in the 12 months were also observed for a range of control variables. Specifically, sexual risk-taking with partners met online in the 12 months was more likely among participants who had a lower intention to use condoms with casual partners, men who had a more positive attitude regarding UAI with casual partners, men who had engaged in sexual risk-taking with any casual partners in the 12 months, men who used amyl popperserectile dysfunction drugs, marihuana, party drugs, or other non-injecting drugs before or during sex, men who were 30 years or younger, men who did not complete university education and HIV-positive men.
No ificant univariate associations were found with the use of alcohol or the use of injecting sexual chat and fantasy before or during sex. Covariates of sexual risk-taking with partners met online in the 12 months. A multivariate logistic regression analysis in which sexual risk-taking with partners met online in the 12 months was simultaneously regressed on responses to online chatting about Sexual chat and fantasy and the control variables showed that participants' acceptance of online chatting about UAI remained ificantly and positively associated with sexual risk-taking with partners met online in the 12 months see Table II.
The associations with intentions to use condoms with casual partners, attitudes regarding UAI with casual partners, sexual risk-taking with casual partners in the 12 months and age also remained ificant in the multivariate analysis. The association with the use of marihuana before or during sex became marginally ificant, while associations with the use of amyl, erectile dysfunction drugs, party drugs and other non-injecting sexual chat and fantasy before or during sex became non-ificant.
The effect of the use of injecting drugs before or during sex remained non-ificant.
The effect of the use of alcohol before or during sex became ificant in the multivariate model, such that men who more frequently used alcohol before or during sex were less likely to report sexual risk-taking with partners met online in the 12 months. This paper aimed to explore cyber sexuality in MSM and to assess the association between the content of online erotic chatting and possible sexual risk-taking with partners met online. Data were obtained from a large sample of MSM in France who reported high s of sexual partners sexual chat and fantasy online. Whereas respondents on average had a strong intention to engage in protected anal sex with casual partners, one-third of participants engaged in UAI with casual partners met online in the 12 months.
To offer an sexual chat and fantasy for this typical gap between intentions and behaviors [ 42 ], we explored the potential role of online chatting about UAI among MSM. Together our findings contribute novel understandings of the processes that may underlie possible sexual risk-taking among MSM who use the Internet to meet sexual partners. Firstly, we found that when a chat partner shares fantasies about UAI in online chatting, a substantial proportion of men, estimated at almost half, responds acceptingly.
Secondly, we showed that responding acceptingly to fantasizing about UAI is associated with possible sexual risk-taking in real life with partners met online.
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Thirdly, and most importantly, sexual chat and fantasy demonstrated that the association between accepting online fantasizing about UAI and UAI in real life with partners met online remains ificant when controlling for men's intentions to use condoms, their attitudes regarding UAI with casual partners, UAI with casual partners more generally i. Together these findings support our main expectation that fantasizing about UAI during online chatting may shape the potentially risky sexual practices of a wider group of men than only those who prefer UAI, do not intend to use condoms, or are generally more likely to engage in UAI with casual partners.
Sexual chat and fantasy the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to assess the potential association between engaging in fantasizing about UAI during online erotic chatting and possible sexual risk-taking with partners met online in MSM, sexual chat and fantasy for several reasons the findings of this initial study are limited. Although the participants in this study have characteristics that are similar to what has been observed in other studies of online sexual chat and fantasy of MSM in post-industrial countries [ 4344 ], the sample cannot be considered representative of the population of MSM who use the Internet to meet sexual partners.
Also, data were derived from a cross-sectional survey, which precludes definitive conclusions regarding causality. Furthermore, we did not provide an explicit definition of fantasizing about UAI initiated by an online chat partner, which may have been interpreted differently by participants. Also, some participants may not have experienced a partner initiating fantasizing about UAI during online erotic chatting.
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In addition, information regarding the dynamics, content and different uses of online chatting with potential sex partners was limited, and no data were available to assess whether the risk for HIV transmission was mitigated in UAI with partners met online. Future research should also take into how MSM select chat partners from extensive lists of profiles that are available [ 2930 ], how much time chat partners sexual chat and fantasy between online chatting and face-to-face encounters and what happens when chat partners meet face-to-face. In spite of these limitations, our findings provide a novel perspective of the processes that may be associated with possible sexual risk-taking among MSM who use the Internet to meet sexual partners [ 28 ].
in particular indicate that among MSM, sharing fantasies about unprotected sex during online chatting between partners who presumably did not know each other, may contribute to possible sexual risk sexual chat and fantasy with partners met online. Our findings suggest that possible sexual risk-taking with partners met online may also occur among men who do not have a strong preference for UAI and who sexual chat and fantasy to use condoms with casual partners, and support the hypothesis that this risk-taking can be shaped by engaging in online fantasizing about UAI.
This speaks critically to the assumption, which actors in online chatting may hold, that online fantasizing is not real behavior and of little consequence for real life [ 1 ].