RESEARCH ARTICLE


Internet-Based Methods May Reach Higher-Risk Men who have Sex with Men Not Reached Through Venue-Based Sampling§



Travis Sanchez*, Amanda Smith, Damian Denson, Elizabeth DiNenno , Amy LanskyAuthor Comment: for the Web-Based HIV Behavioral Surveillance Study Group

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA


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© Sanchez et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Emory University, 1518 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA; Tel: +1 404 727 8403; Fax: +1 404 727 8737; E-mail: Travis.Sanchez@emory.edu


Abstract

Background:

Internet-based sampling methods may reach men who have sex with men (MSM) who don’t attend physical venues frequented by MSM and may be at higher risk of HIV infection.

Methods:

Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine characteristics of adult MSM participants in 2 studies conducted in the same 5 U.S. cities: the 2003-2005 National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System (NHBS) which used sampling from physical MSM venues (e.g., bars, clubs) and the 2007 Web-based HIV Behavioral Surveillance (WHBS) pilot which used sampling through online banner advertisements.

Results:

Among 5024 WHBS MSM, 95% attended a physical MSM venue in the past 12 months, and 75% attended weekly. WHBS MSM who were black, aged 18-21 years, not college educated, bisexual- or heterosexual-identifying, and reported unknown HIV serostatus were less likely to have attended a physical MSM venue in the past 12 months (all p<0.01). Compared to NHBS MSM, WHBS MSM were more likely to be white, younger, college-educated, report unknown HIV serostatus, report unprotected anal intercourse with a casual partner, and have first met that partner online (all p<0.0001). WHBS MSM were less likely to have been under the influence of drugs during most recent sex (p=0.01) or not know their sex partner’s HIV serostatus (p<0.0001).

Conclusions:

Many MSM recruited online also attended physical venues, but attendance varied by sub-group. Participants in WHBS and NHBS differed, and WHBS may represent a group of MSM at higher risk of HIV infection. These findings suggest that an internet-based method may be a useful supplement to NHBS.

Keywords: MSM, HIV, internet, gay, sex..