Young participants were more willing than older ones to seek potential partners in chat rooms, as well as to exchange addresses with individuals they met on-line.Respondents to the anonymous survey were recruited through chat rooms, electronic bulletin boards and list serves.Sexual behaviors differed by respondents' age, and results varied somewhat depending on how they had met their partners.
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Respondents aged 18-24 who had ever met a partner through the Internet reported having found an average of nearly 10 partners that way, including seven in the last year alone.
Older men and women, by contrast, said that they had met 14 partners on-line, six of them in the previous year.
A third initiative, a downloadable video game, helped mitigate shame felt by some young men who have sex with men, though the reduction in risky sexual behavior wasn’t statistically significant.
Chat rooms may also help prevent HIV, the study found.
When a sexual health expert entered a popular chat room to regularly post information about and respond to instant messages seeking information on HIV, self-reported HIV testing among participants in the chat room significantly increased.