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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 19 April, 2019
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More gay men are seeking STI testing and advice

One in five of those tested at the Gay Men’s Health Service clinic in Dublin last year received a diagnosis.

Performer Rory O'Neill at a Man2Man sexual health awareness launch.
Performer Rory O'Neill at a Man2Man sexual health awareness launch.
Image: Facebook

ALMOST 6,000 MEN attended the HSE’s Gay Men’s Health Service clinic in Dublin last year.

This figure represents a seven per cent increase from 2012. Some 882 men were first-time attendees and 38 per cent were 24 years old or younger.

One in five of the men tested in 2013 received a diagnosis: 290 had Gonorrhoea, 204 had Chlamydia and 66 had Syphilis.

33 men were diagnosed with HIV, six in ten of these were first time attendees at the clinic.

Some 14 per cent of the men tested were not from Dublin, while 43 per cent of attendees were born abroad – an increase of 25 per cent from 2012.

Awareness Campaign

The centre’s manager Mick Quinlan said the increase in numbers was welcome “as it shows the success of our ongoing Man2Man sexual health promotion campaign, and our ongoing outreach and awareness work”.

The figures are included the GMHS’s 2013 Annual Report which was launched at the Annual Gay Health Forum at Dublin Castle this afternoon.

The forum was organised by the GMHS and the Gay Health Network.

The GMHS has been in operation for 21 years from its main base in Baggot Street Hospital. It provides HIV and STI testing and prevention information, sexual health awareness, and care and support services for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people.

“It’s important that we find ways to ensure that a higher proportion of sexually active gay and bisexual men seek STI screening services and that we build on increased levels of confidence that services are accessible and follow this with higher testing rate,” Quinlan noted.

Homophobic abuse

Also at the forum, the fourth annual Man2Man Report was launched. The document includes statistics from the European MSM Internet Survey which was answered by 2,610 gay men living in Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2010 – the largest ever research sample of this group across the 32 counties.

Of the respondents, 47.5 per cent had experienced at least one form of homophobic abuse in the previous twelve months. Some 4.3 per cent of men said they were physically abused due to their sexuality, while one third were verbally abused.

Mr. Quinlan said the survey’s findings “highlight the need for specific strategies to reach particular subsets of MSM and for initiatives to build positive self-awareness as well as to support and promote self-acceptance of, and comfort with, an individual’s gay identity”.

Almost four in ten of those surveyed, 38 per cent, said they had never been tested for HIV.

Read: Opinion: Dear Vincent Browne, I don’t have a ‘gay lifestyle’… I have a life

Read: Email and drop-in service to support sexual health in gay community

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Órla Ryan

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