EMIS report launch shares the fact most men with HIV cannot transmit the virus

Over 100,000 people from across Europe undertook the EMIS survey, the resulting report of which was launched today.

The EMIS report launch with four women and two men holding up a copy of the published report

The results of the EMIS-2017 Ireland report, compiled from a survey with the aims of improving the health of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, were released today.

‘EMIS-2017 Ireland: Findings from the European Men who have sex with men Internet Survey (Ireland)’ is a report based on a European-wide survey of sexual health practices. The results of the report will provide vital information for the GHN, HSE and other organisations to help plan services and campaigns in Ireland. It will also greatly contribute to the knowledge of sexual health needs across Europe.

The objectives of the survey were the following:

  • Assess reported ill health, including markers of mental health and HIV/STI diagnoses.
  • Describe risk and precautionary behaviours engaged in by men in Ireland.
  • Identify needs in the community, including safer sex, PEP and PrEP use and HIV testing and treatment.
  • Monitor the use of interventions intended to reduce HIV and STI needs.

With over 100,000 respondents from across Europe, including 2,083 from Ireland, it presents an informative and encompassing look at what needs to be done to improve the lives and sexual health of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

The survey focused on knowledge about HIV and sexually transmitted infections, sexual behaviour, access to care, HIV-related stigma and the use of services for HIV and sexual health. The study found that most gay and bisexual men living with HIV are on effective treatment, have an undetectable viral load and cannot transmit HIV.

At the launch of the EMIS 2017 report, Minister Catherine Byrne said: “I welcome the publication of this important survey and I want to thank all of those men who took part. The information they have provided is key to informing our continued work and improvements in the area of sexual health. Some of the key findings of this report show where more work is needed but there is also good news.

“The report found that there is a higher than average usage and awareness of PrEP in Ireland compared to the European average. This is very encouraging as we prepare for the introduction of the PrEP programme in Ireland. Working in partnership with the Gay Health Network and the HSE, we will continue to promote positive sexual health and wellbeing across all communities.”

Mick Quinlan of GHN shared, “The U=U message is becoming more prevalent and MSM living with HIV can feel confident that if they have an undetectable viral load and are having their HIV monitored, they will not pass HIV on to their sexual partners. However, just over 40% of all respondents in this study were not aware of this important information.

“This highlights the need for targeted health promotion messaging; to arrange for people who have been diagnosed with HIV to take-up treatment as soon as possible, and for MSM to test for HIV and to have regular testing if at risk of acquiring HIV.”

Additionally, Dr Derval Igoe, Health Protection Surveillance Centre and the Irish study’s Principal Investigator, said: “The proportion of men testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) has been increasing in recent years, which is very welcome.”

“However, 23% of MSM overall have never tested for HIV, rising to 47% in young men between 17 and 24 years of age. A sustained focus on reducing HIV stigma, on highlighting the benefits to the individual and the population in knowing your HIV status and on expanding options and opportunities for testing are all required.”

You can read the full report here.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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