Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More.
With limited exceptions, few studies have systematically reported on psychosocial and demographic characteristic differences in samples of men who have sex with men MSM based on where they were recruited. This study compared three sexually active cohorts of MSM recruited via Craigslist. Men recruited from sex parties were ificantly older, reported more symptoms of sexual compulsivity, more likely to be HIV-positive, more likely to report a history of STIs, and more likely to self-identify as a barebacker, than men recruited from the other two venues.
In contrast, men from Craigslist. Men from bars and clubs were ificantly younger, and were more likely to report use of hallucinogens and crack or cocaine.
These figures underscore the need to continue conducting research to better understand the factors that contribute to HIV transmission risks in MSM. Much of the research on venues among MSM in the past two decades has focused on the Internet as a primary source of sexual partnering Chiasson et al. This research has often drawn on MSM recruited from membership-based sexual networking websites e.
Some research suggests that men from online bulletin boards may be characteristically different from those on membership-based sites with regard to sexual identity, sexual behavior patterns, and racial and ethnic diversity Grov, Thus, online bulletin boards offer an important, yet understudied, additional environment used by MSM for sex seeking. Although the Internet is perhaps the modal way in which gay and bisexual men meet partners today, it represents only one of a variety of ways men meet partners. Sources for meeting partners have often been the subject of inquiry for their potential roles in HIV and STI transmission risk behaviors Smith, Though not an exhaustive list, these include bathhouses Mehta et al.
What is clear from research is that there is ificant variability in the extent to which MSM use a given source; however, more research is needed to examine utilization across a variety of sources within individuals to examine source favoritism i. Often drawing from community-based samples, researchers have compared men who met partners in one type of venue to those who have met partners in another type.
For example, Parsons and Halkitis and Binson et al. Binson et al. It is important to better understand whether such differences reflect characteristics of the participants recruited within these spaces or of the venues themselves.
Grov compared survey data from MSM identified via Craigslist. Men from Craigslist However, among men reporting anal sex, those on Craigslist reported the lowest levels of condom use. The study highlighted the need to tailor HIV prevention efforts to the location in which they are targeted, and for researchers to evaluate if participants differ by recruitment source.
In order to diversify sample and representativeness, both HIV surveillance and many large-scale studies involving MSM have identified samples via venue-based sampling Bingham et al.
With limited exceptions, Grov, ; Jenness et al. In essence, we know little about how the venues in which we sample ultimately influence the characteristics of the samples we obtain from them. More research is needed to determine whether venues are characterized by distinct subpopulations of MSM.
This information would be useful to evaluate representativeness of samples obtained within these various venues in order to inform targeted prevention and recruitment efforts.
Additionally, it would be useful to investigate if there are different patterns in venue frequenting. Such information is necessary to further understand overlapping sexual networks and thus the spread of HIV, STIs, and other communicable diseases e. With limited exceptions, few studies have systematically reported on characteristic differences in samples of MSM who participated in research studies—either because of having recruited participants via a single source e.
To address these limitations, the goal of this study was to compare three cohorts of MSM recruited via Craigslist. Data for this study are taken from Project Score, a formative study investigating three cohorts of NYC-based MSM and the places where they meet their sex partners. These venues were selected based on research suggesting these are among the most common places MSM meet sex partners Grov et al.
Eligibility criteria included being biologically male, at least 18 years of age, able to complete the study in English, and having reported at least two new i. Participants were enrolled between — Those eligible were invited to participate in a face-to-face interview at our research office.
Because each type of venue can present its own unique challenges with regard to recruitment, differing methods were used to identify participants in this formative study. In the case of bars and clubs, this was hours of operation up until 2am.
A random digit generator was used to randomly select a bar or club, along with a shift start time. Then, teams of two staff members were ased to approach and screen patrons at random for the duration of the recruitment shift. In total, The screening consisted of a brief survey on a handheld device.
Those meeting basic eligibility criteria were offered the opportunity to the study.
The team divided these times into one-hour increments e. We opted to post on Craigslist versus simply responding to already posted in an effort to also reach those men who exclusively browse and respond to personals, but may not have posted themselves. Research staff responded to inquiries promptly, providing instructions on how to the study. Staff rescreened participants via phone and those still eligible were scheduled for an assessment.
The third group to be enrolled consisted of men who attended sex parties. This included browsing listings on sexual networking websites, sex blogs, gay print media, and word of mouth. We also contacted event spaces that house sex party events.
Event promoters and space managers were provided with study recruitment cards and asked to include information about the study in their e-newsletters to their members. Those interested were asked to call our research center and screen for the study. Given the formative nature of this study, on-site recruitment where field staff attended events was not feasible.
After informed consent procedures, participants were placed on a computer equipped with audio computer-assisted self-interview ACASI software to complete survey procedures. ACASI uses a computer and voice recordings so that the participant hears through headphones and sees on the screen each question and response list. Participants responded to questions about their demographic characteristics e.
Note, only one participant 0. Though not exhaustive, this list was generated from our prior work and in consultation with MSM community members. Participants were also asked six follow up questions regarding normative perceptions about the venues from which they met partners.
Due to software failure, two interviews were lost. Next, we compared these cohorts on the locations where they reported meeting male sex partners in the prior 3 months, and investigated prevalence data on the various social and sexual networking websites where participants reported a recent male sex partner.
Nearly one-quarter Men from sex parties had the highest proportion of men who reported being HIV-positive Half of participants were MSM of color and this was unassociated with recruitment source. A ificantly smaller proportion of men from Craigslist self-identified as gay There was a ificant association between HIV-positive serostatus and barebacker identity— Among the men who reported they practice anal sex, ificant differences by venue of recruitment were found with regards to lifetime STI diagnosis, with the group recruited from sex parties having the largest proportion Craigslist sex College Park MD men who had experienced a lifetime STI diagnosis Across all men, the highest reported prevalence was for genital warts Men from sex parties reported ificantly higher mean scores on the Sexual Compulsivity Scale than men from Craigslist, and ificantly higher mean scores on the HIV Knowledge Scale i.
Recruitment source was not ificantly associated with the Temptation for Unsafe Sex Scale. Table 2 reports on differences between the three cohorts in the venues from which they reported meeting their male sex partners in the prior 3 months. There were ificant findings for 10 of the 18 venues assessed. Not surprisingly, venue of recruitment was highly associated with having met a partner in that venue.
Ninety-six percent of men from Craigslist reported a partner from the Internet, Men from sex parties appeared to have widest range of venues through which they met sex partners an average of 5.
The Internet was the most common venue participants reported meeting partners, with The three most common websites in which participants had met a recent male sex partner included Craigslist. In addition, only We did not have sufficient power to detect differences in other websites, which were less common for having met a recent sex partner.
Participants were also given the opportunity to write in any websites from which they had met a partner but were not included in our list.
These responses included allkink. Each of these was only indicated once. Unlike the venues in which participants were recruited, the venues where participants reported partners are not mutually exclusive e. As a result, it is not possible to conduct statistical comparisons between venues.
Nonetheless, we can observe meaningful trends within each venue. Regardless of venue, men believed that approximately a quarter of the men, on average, used methamphetamine. Normative perceptions of MSM at the five most common venues where participants reported sex partners in the prior 3 months. Men from sex parties were the oldest on average, scored highest on the Sexual Compulsivity Scale, and had the highest proportion of men who reported a history of STIs and self-identified as barebackers. Further, men from sex parties appeared to have the most diverse set of venues for meeting sex partners.
Although venue of recruitment was unassociated with recent UAI with a casual male partner, there was a notable gap between the proportion of men reporting UAI from Craigslist.
Given the high proportion of HIV-positive men who attend sex parties identified in our study, this might be a valuable opportunity for providers to engage in outreach with sex party promoters to ensure this population is engaged in care and on anti-retroviral medication. It may be that MSM who use Craigslist are less likely to be reached via traditional face-to-face outreach in concentrated gay neighborhoods Sanchez et al.
Providers might be well served to advertise on Craigslist. Thus, although MSM recruited off Craigslist appear to be characteristically different from other MSM, notable portions of MSM recruited from other venues have used the website to meet a sex partner. And, although in the minority, this proportion is substantial enough such to warrant further investigation, particularly because the Craigslist environment is highly dissimilar from many traditional profile-based sexual networking websites Grov, Profile-based websites are structured such that users interact with each other on the website e.
These structural differences may impact sexual communication styles Grov, ZIP: 20740 20742 20741