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My name is Mark Vogel and I am the project manager at HIV In Site, and I will be the moderator of today's discussion.Most of us are here because we are probably familiar with the recent studies that report high rates of unprotected sex and outbreaks of STDs among men who meet other men in Internet chat rooms.In the last year, 15 percent of all the kids surveyed reported an "unwanted sexual solicitation online." Most of these never turn out to be more than an unwanted message on the computer screen, but still, there's plenty to be said for serious parental involvement with younger kids' computing habits.The good news, at least for social networking sites, is that only less than a third of these solicitations came through social networking sites.
I wanted to start the discussion more with evidence because there might be people who are skeptical or do not really understand what evidence there is out there that men who have sex with men and meet their sexual partners online have higher rates of unprotected sex and sexually transmitted diseases. We did a case-control study, which is kind of your typical type of evaluation to determine what risk factors are associated with cases and non-cases.
It is a cultural norm to be able to put a photograph in the profile out there that does not have a face, it does not have a name associated and I think that there is a level of personal safety that you believe you have, giving the fact that you think people cannot identify you.
So you can write your profile as a modified code, hoping other people will read it the same way and then you can have a combination of emails exchanged or messages exchanged that allows you to kind of refine where and what behavior you choose to go to and then, if you want to have that next step, you can display your face.
IM and chat rooms were much more likely to deliver unsolicited sex chat.
The results led the study's authors to conclude that "broad claims of victimization risk, at least definedsocial networking sites do not seem justified." The result is of more than academic interest, as Congress has considered legislation that would specifically restrict access to social networking sites in schools and libraries on the grounds that such sites are dangerous.Participants: Philip Huang, Asian Health Service, Oakland, California; Jeff Klausner, MD, San Francisco Department of Public Health; Deb Levine, Internet Sexuality Information Services, San Francisco; Greg Rebchook, UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies; Frank Strona, Mark Vogel: Welcome to today's roundtable discussion sponsored by HIV In Site and The Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, both at UCSF.