Miami Living Magazine

Gloria & Emilio Estefan

Miami Living Magazine features the best Miami has to offer. Click on any magazine below and enjoy. You can download our free app on iTunes. Ideal for iPad and iPhone users.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 81 of 179

80 MIAMI LIVING HIV Report: Cyber Dating Online and off, the dangers still exist Words by Marla E. Schwartz HEALTH Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein had the romance thing down just right, and for modern audiences, their hit song, "Some Enchanted Evening", from their 1949 Broadway hit, South Pacific, is still relevant, albeit with a cyber-twist: "Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger/You may see a stranger across a crowded room/And somehow you know, you know even then/That somehow you'll see [him/her] again and again." Meeting someone across a crowded room, of course, has become rather cliche in terms of today's dating scene. These days people turn to online forums to meet people. And while it is an accepted mode of operating, here's the deal with "Chats and Risks"—we all know that people can lie. So exercise good judgment by being careful. "Dating people through the Internet and browsing in chat rooms has become more and more popular in the last decade," says ML's resident HIV/AIDS expert, Filippo von Schloesser. "It can be easy, quick, and successful. One feels protected by the screen and fantasy plays a proactive role in finding an occasional sex partner." Taking men as our example, many MSM (men who have sex with men) Websites are great places to check out, such as,,, and, but other Websites may not have such a careful screening process. If a participant is asked to declare his "status," keep in mind that "it's not about social status, but one's HIV serological status," von Schloesser points out. "Nevertheless, almost nobody dares to define himself as 'positive'." A study of Latino MSM found they were significantly more likely to engage in sexual negotiation and serostatus disclosure on the Internet than in person. For HIV+ persons, disclosing HIV status online also helps avoid abuse, discrimination, or rejection by partners. The University of Minnesota recently published a study on this subject, with 15,400 people anonomously responding to a questionaire with results showing that 72% declaring themselves HIV negative were never tested for HIV; 17% reported to be negative while they were aware of being positive; 11% were never tested, and 33% of HIV+ men had unprotected sex with partners they had met through Internet chats. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) confirms that at least 25% of the general population who is HIV+ does not know his/her serological status. Last July, the Chicago Tribune reported that the city's Department of Public Health found the majority of MSM find partners online, and sadly this has coincided with a rise in regional syphilis infections. This is of great concern because syphilis poses a fivefold increase in the risk of HIV transmission. "The fact is that people still engage in unprotected sex," von Schloesser says. "This is a terrible idea, not only because of the HIV risk, but because of all the sexually transmitted diseases (papilloma, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, herpes, candidiasis, etc.) one can catch. The non-disclosure of one's HIV status is due to the fear of less MSM being interested in having sex with them." In a perfect world it would be more responsible to declare one's status. There is enough scientific evidence to show that a person who is aware of his HIV status and takes control of the virus with appropiate antiviral treatment is less likely to infect other people. There is no doubt that the anonymity of online communication makes it easier to disclose ones HIV status. "It's more interesting to meet a man who declares himself HIV+ and on treatment with an undetectable viral load, than meeting somebody who declares he tested three months before … without accounting for his sexual behaviour after testing," von Schloesser says. Or, is the risk part of the pleasure? ML HIV expert Filippo von Schloesser. Photo by Rubem Robierb.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Miami Living Magazine - Gloria & Emilio Estefan