Online Partner Seeking and Sexual Behaviors Among Men Who Have Sex With Men From Small and Midsized Towns: Cross-sectional Study

Vira Pravosud, April M. Ballard, Ian W. Holloway, April M. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Men who have sex with men (MSM) residing outside of large urban areas are underrepresented in research on online partner seeking and sexual behaviors related to transmission of HIV. Objective: We aimed to determine associations between the use of the internet or social networking apps (online tools) to meet partners for sex, dating, or for both purposes (online partner seeking) and sexual behaviors among MSM residing in small and midsized towns in Kentucky, United States. Methods: Using peer-referral sampling and online self-administered questionnaires, data were collected from 252 men, aged 18 to 34 years, who had recently (past 6 months) engaged in anal sex with another man and resided in Central Kentucky. Using multivariable logistic regression models, we assessed associations of online partner seeking and HIV-related sexual behaviors. Results: Most (181/252, 71.8%) of the participants reported using online tools for partner seeking. Of these 181 respondents, 166 (91.7%) had used online tools to meet partners for sex (n=45, 27.1% for sex only; and n=121, 72.9% for sex and dating) and 136 (75.1%) had used online tools to meet partners for dating (n=15, 11% for dating only; and n=121, 89% for sex and dating). Adjusted analyses revealed that MSM who had engaged in condomless insertive and receptive anal intercourse were less likely to report online partner seeking (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.22, 95% CI 0.07-0.68; P=.009 and aOR 0.25, 95% CI 0.10-0.66; P=.005, respectively). Increased number of insertive and receptive anal sex partners and substance use before or during sex were associated with higher odds of online partner seeking (aOR 1.31, 95% CI 1.11-1.55; P=.001; aOR 1.20, 95% CI 1.05-1.39; P=.008; and aOR 2.50, 95% CI 1.41-4.44; P=.002, respectively). Conclusions: Among MSM who reside outside of large urban areas and practice online partner seeking, HIV risk-reduction interventions should address safer sex practices, including the risks for HIV transmission associated with alcohol or drug use before or during sex. MSM who do not practice online partner seeking are in need of continued outreach to reduce condomless anal sex.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere35056
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Vira Pravosud, April M Ballard, Ian W Holloway, April M Young. Originally published in JMIR Formative Research (, 10.06.2022. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Formative Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.


  • HIV
  • MSM
  • STI prevention
  • men who have sex with men
  • mobile phone
  • online tools
  • sexual risk behaviors
  • sexually transmitted infection
  • social networking and dating apps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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