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Patterns of Online and Offline Partnering, Partnership Characteristics, and Condomless Sex Among Adolescent Sexual Minority Males in the USA

Kathryn Macapagal, Kevin Moran, Michael E. Newcomb, David A. Moskowitz, Christopher Owens & Brian Mustanski

AIDS and Behavior

Online partner-seeking among adolescent sexual minority males (ASMM) has been associated with condomless anal sex. Two hypotheses may explain this association: that online venues facilitate HIV transmission risk behavior more than offline venues (accentuation), or that individuals who tend to engage in these behaviors are more likely to seek partners online (self-selection). We examined these hypotheses in 700 13–18 year-old ASMM who completed the baseline survey of an effectiveness trial of an HIV prevention program in 2018–2020. The survey assessed demographic, sexual, and venue characteristics of male anal sex partnerships in the past 3 months. Many participants (83%) reported ≥ 1 online-met partner; most were met via sexual networking applications and were older than offline-met partners. Having met partners online, but not whether a particular partner was met online, was associated with greater odds of receptive condomless sex. Findings support the self-selection hypothesis, which has implications for HIV prevention in ASMM.

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