The Internet affords anonymity (There is a great New Yorker slide that says, "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog.") So you can be whoever you want to be on the Internet.Internet partnering has become very acceptable, so that it has become the new relative norm of how to meet partners.

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What differs from the local sex club, though, in one factor is they are not community-based.

The owners could be in New York or be in Ohio and that is where they launched your national website from, and you could have people all over the country using the site.

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.

In this investigation, we found that 67% of these syphilis cases versus 19% of matched men who were non-syphilis cases had met recent partners in the chat room, and this was a statistically significant association.

Frank Strona: One of the things to keep in mind with Internet behavior is there is a perception of anonymity.

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.

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.

But we are here to address the questions of why this is the case, what evidence there is to support these studies and these trends, and to set out what makes Internet chat rooms different from other venues.

Okay, so then you get together and you think that you are going to have a particular kind of experience, you are already there, you are already aroused, you give up some of the discussion because it is much easier to just follow through and then afterwards you are like, "Man, you know? Internet access to places where you can meet sex partners is very affordable.

It is a lot cheaper to just go online and go to a chat room than to get up, go out of the house and go to a bar or a club or some other venue.

But I really do think a lot of it is based on comfort level of perceived anonymity. I do not want to start off by blaming the Internet and saying, you know, "This medium is the reason that there are higher transmission rates." It is yet another way that men can meet men and a lot of the people who are meeting men on the Internet are also meeting men in bars and clubs and bath houses and parks and everywhere else. Adding to that, though, the Internet allows men to meet each other faster.