HSE and the Gay Health Network publish the largest ever MISI Survey

Joint Gay Health Network and HSE Press Release, 10th June 2016.

The HSE and the Gay Health Network launched the Men who have Sex with Men Internet Survey Ireland (MISI 2015) today, 10th June 2016 at the 14th Annual Gay Health Forum (GHF14) Dublin Castle.

The MISI 2015 report includes a range of findings on sexual health knowledge, attitudes, needs and behaviour among MSM. It focuses on sexual identity, relationships, HIV status and perception, and HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. It also reports on sexual behaviours, substance use, access to and use of HIV prevention interventions as well as awareness and impact of health promotion materials designed for MSM. This internet survey, which was live from March 1st to May 31st 2015, is the largest ever national MSM survey of its kind in Ireland, with 3,090 men included in the analysis.  The full report is available here.

Men of all ages responded to the survey; 31% were less than 25 years of age, and 28% were over 40. Sexual identity and attraction varied among respondents: 75% were attracted only to men, and 25% to both men and women. The majority of men (79%) described themselves as gay, 13% as bisexual, 2% as straight or heterosexual and 5% as other. Two thirds were out to all or more than half of the people who knew them while 25% were out to less than half or few people and a further 9% were out to no one. Overall, 53% of MSM were single, 39% were in a steady relationship with a man and 8% were in a steady relationship with a woman.

90% of men had sex with another man in the previous year and 14% had sex with a woman.  Of men who had sex in the last 12 months, 31% reported that they had sex with one partner. Overall, 61% had sex with one or more non-steady partner in the last year, and 40% of these had unprotected (without a condom) anal intercourse.

Almost two thirds of men who had sex in the last 12 months met their most recent male partner via a smartphone app or website. Almost four in 10 men had never tested for HIV or STIs. Those least likely to have ever had a HIV test were young, living outside Dublin, did not identify as gay, were out to few or no one or had low levels of education. Of those who tested for STIs in the last 12 months, 21% had been newly diagnosed with an STI. Of those who had ever tested for HIV, 8% reported that they were HIV positive.

Encouragingly, for the 40% of men who had seen the “Get Tested” campaign for HIV, one third said that the campaign encouraged them to test for HIV. For the “It’s hard, it’s easy” condom campaign, 39% of men who had seen it said that the campaign had encouraged them to access free condoms, and 48% said that it encouraged them to get and carry condoms.  Both campaigns were run in partnerships between the Gay Health Network (GHN)  and the HSE as part of the man2man.ie initiative.

Mick Quinlan representing the GHN said:  “It is very valuable to have this information, to help the HSE and GHN to continue to plan activities and campaigns for MSM in Ireland. This large study shows that  the “Get Tested” Campaign and the “It’s Hard, It’s Easy” campaign  have been really successful in reaching our population and encouraging men, particularly young men, to get tested for HIV, to talk to their sexual partners and friends about HIV and to carry and use condoms.”  For more information visit www.man2man.ie