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The Internet in particular is an important space to explore aspects of sexuality that are less likely to be expressed in real life, for instance out of fear of embarrassment or rejection .
This may also pertain to explorations of UAI, as reflected in the observed linking of barebacking to the Internet .
However, survey research among MSM in London found that, regardless of HIV status, men who looked for sex partners through the Internet were no more likely to report UAI with non-concordant casual partners they met online rather than off-line .
The present study explores whether fantasizing about unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) during online chatting is associated with UAI with partners met online.
An online survey of 2058 MSM in France included assessments of UAI with partners met online, responses to erotic chatting about UAI, intentions to use condoms, attitudes regarding UAI, practicing UAI with casual partners, alcohol and drug use with sex and biographical characteristics.
While intentions to use condoms with casual partners were high, one-third (32.1%) of respondents reported UAI with partners met online.
Responding positively to online chatting about UAI was significantly associated with UAI with partners met online, controlling for intentions, attitudes, behavior and biographic characteristics.
Another explanation, drawing on the role of impulsive processes, is that UAI in real life can be implicitly produced by the sexual scripts, without intending to enact it, through the automatic activation of behavioral schemata [35, 36].
Furthermore, theorizing of social influence processes suggests that UAI with partners met online may reflect a general tendency to behave consistently that guides much of social interaction .
Moreover, in the current HIV epidemic some MSM may not hold categorical, pre-determined safer sex intentions, and may be open to engaging in UAI, when the perceived risk of HIV transmission is low.
Ross' thoughtful social theory analysis of sexuality and the Internet provides valuable insights that inform our theorizing of the potential association between online chatting and sexual risk-taking among MSM .
According to Ross, the Internet provides a sexual space midway between fantasy and action that enables experimenting with sexual behavior by ‘engaging in it online and with another person without actually “doing” it’ [1, p. The author further suggests that the expression of desires in semi-hypothetical online interactions can be seen as an externalizing of sexual fantasy .