Gay Chat Rooms Breeding Ground For AIDS Researchers Say

Wed. July 30, 2003 12:00 AM by

Washington, D.C. - Two new studies released Tuesday at a national AIDS conference suggest that gay and bisexual men are turning in unprecedented numbers to the web to meet for unsafe sex.

The research was presented at the National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta.

The first study was done by the California Department of Health Services and showed that 23 percent of gay and bisexual men infected with syphilis admitted meeting sexual partners on the Internet, compared to 21 percent who had done so in bathhouses.

The second research report was prepared by the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California in San Francisco. It found that 39 percent of gay and bisexual males interviewed online admitted having unprotected anal sex with someone they had met on the Internet in the previous two months.

Eleven percent of these respondents were HIV-positive.

One scientist said that chatrooms and Web sites are replacing gay bathhouses and sex clubs as the most popular meeting point to arrange high-risk sex.

"It's clear we need to reach gay and bisexual men with appropriate messages, not only in traditional high-risk settings but also online," Dr. Ron Valdiserri, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention told the conference.

The number of new cases of HIV among gay and bisexual men has jumped more than 17 percent since 1999 according to new data from the CDC. ( story)

©® 2003

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