Online preferences about sex with HIV-positive partners

Stream: HIV: Emerging strategies in prevention among MSM
Date: Friday, 1 April 2016
Time: 2.00 pm – 3.45 pm


Objective: To examine stated preferences for HIV-positive partners among gay and bisexual men (GBM) on an online dating site.

Method: We reviewed 75,863 Australian online profiles from a popular gay dating website. Men could indicate their preferences from a list of 22 types of partners: 8420 men (11.1%) indicated that they were interested in sex with HIV-positive men, but 3798 (5.0%) listed all types of men. There were 2072 men (2.7%) who listed a preference for 21 of the 22 types of men, including 1581 men (2.1%) who specifically excluded HIV-positive men. We compared these 1581 men with the 4622 men specifically selected HIV-positive men.

Results: Mean age was 38.3 years. Men who specifically excluded HIV-positive men were younger (34.7 mean age), less likely to identify as gay (25.7%), and more likely to always prefer ‘safer sex’ (55.5%) than those who specifically included them (39.6 mean age; 65.2% gay-identified; 32.4% preferred safer sex). Men who specifically excluded HIV-positive men were also more likely to live outside of Sydney and Melbourne.

Conclusion: Men who were specifically concerned not to have sex with HIV-positive men were younger and less connected to urban gay communities, and they tended to restrict themselves to ‘safer sex’. While what is meant by ‘safer sex’ on these online profiles is unclear, the desire to avoid sexual contact with HIV-positive men appears to largely reflect levels of engagement with gay communities. These attitudes likely reflect lack of knowledge as much as stigma.


Garrett Prestage (Presenter), Kirby Institute & ARCSHS
He has been active in gay community life in Australia since the mid-1970s. Since 1992, Garrett has worked at the Kirby Institute, and has also worked for ARCSHS since 2007. He has managed major cohort studies of gay men in Australia, has been an Investigator on the Gay Community Periodic Surveys since they commenced in 1996 and the HIV Seroconversion Study, and he regularly initiates research into sexuality, risk and community among gay men to directly contribute to gay community responses to HIV and other STIs.

Iryna Zablotska, Kirby Institute

Feng Jin, Kirby Institute