Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Crystal L. Park, Ph.D.; Seth C. Kalichman, Ph.D.

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Men who have sex with men (MSM) remain the highest risk group for HIV infection. One reason suggested for the increase in incidence in recent years, despite knowledge about HIV prevention, is the use of the Internet to meet potential sex partners. Meeting sex partners online has been associated with greater sexual risk behavior. To date, few studies have investigated psychosocial predictors of sexual risk behavior among men seeking sex partners online. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the relationships between trauma symptoms, internalized HIV stigma, and social support on sexual risk behavior among MSM who seek sex partners online. A sample of 170 MSM recruited on- and offline completed self-report measures. Internalized HIV stigma mediated the relationship between trauma-related symptoms indexed on the event of HIV diagnosis and sexual risk behavior with serodiscordant sex partners. This indirect relationship did not hold for risk with seroconcordant sex partners. These findings suggest that men who are in greater distress over their HIV diagnosis and who are more sensitive to HIV stigma engage in more HIV transmission risk behavior. As sexual risk environments expand with the increasing use of the Internet to connect with others for sex, it is important to understand the predictors of sexual risk behavior so that tailored interventions can promote sexual health for men seeking sex online.

Major Advisor

Dean G. Cruess, Ph.D.