More than 67 percent of all new HIV infections in the United States in 2016 occurred as a result of transmission through sexual contact among men who have sex with men (MSM). Young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (YGBMSM) are particularly at risk, accounting for 81 percent of new HIV infections among people ages 13 to 24. YGBMSM’s risks for HIV coincide with developmental milestones as they transition into adulthood, including their exploration and pursuit of sexual and romantic relationships. At present, many of those explorations take place over the internet, as evidenced by the increasing use and popularity of social networking and dating sites.
Now, an innovative online intervention tool shows promise in decreasing sexual risk-taking and promoting HIV/STI prevention behaviors among YGBMSM as they meet partners online. A team led by José Bauermeister, Presidential Professor of Nursing and director of the Program on Sexuality, Technology, & Action Research (PSTAR), at the School of Nursing, designed the My Desires & Expectations (myDEx) tool to address cognitive and emotional factors that influence YGBMSM sexual decision-making when seeking partners online. myDEx was pilot tested in a randomized trial over 90 days with 180 YGBMSM participants. Results of the study were recently published in AIDS & Behavior.
“Preliminary results suggest that the YGBMSM who used myDEx reported greater trends in sexual risk reduction, improvements in HIV prevention behaviors, and noted positive changes in their emotional and cognitive decision-making,” says Bauermeister. “This intervention highlights the need for supportive digital environments where YGBMSM can access and practice how to integrate HIV prevention behaviors in their online dating practices.”
Read more at Penn Nursing News.