Background: In 2017, the international European Men-who-have-sex-with-men Internet Survey (EMIS-2017) collected data from 50 countries, including Canada for the first time.
Objective: To provide an overview of the Canadian EMIS-2017 data to describe the sexually transmitted and other bloodborne infection (STBBI) related needs of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM).
Methods: The EMIS-2017 questionnaire was an updated version of EMIS-2010. It included self-reported sociodemographic data, experience of discrimination, mental health and substance use, knowledge of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV, sexual practices and history of STBBI testing and diagnosis. Analysis was largely descriptive.
Results: Of the 6,059 respondents from Canada, 5,165 participants met the inclusion criteria for this analysis. The majority of participants were born in Canada (79.3%); and over half of the respondents (56.7%) were under the age of 39. In terms of discrimination related to their attraction to other men, participants reported high levels of intimidation (31.9%), verbal abuse (22.1%) and physical violence (1.5%) in the previous year. Regarding mental health, 23.9% had a moderate to severe depression/anxiety score. Almost two-thirds (64.1%) indicated substance use and one-fifth (21.5%) reported chemsex (or the use of stimulant drugs to make sex more intense or last longer). Only 8.4% of participants reported use of PrEP for HIV; however, 51.7% reported being likely to use PrEP if it was available and affordable. Sexual practices, such as condom use, varied by PrEP use with 91.3% of men using PrEP reporting condomless anal intercourse (CAI) compared with 71.5% of men not on PrEP. In terms of STBBI testing, 1.5% reported being diagnosed with hepatitis C and 9.0% reported an HIV diagnosis. Of those with an HIV diagnosis, most were on treatment (99.1%) and had an undetectable viral load (96.7%).
Conclusion: gbMSM in Canada experienced stigma, discrimination and mental health problems; substance use was high as were high-risk sexual practices, such as CAI, among some groups of men. There was a gap between the proportion of men who were interested in PrEP and those who actually used it; and comprehensive STBBI testing was low.These findings can inform public health action and provide a baseline to examine the impact of current and new interventions.
Keywords: HIV; gay bisexual and other men who have sex with men; gbMSM; postexposure prophylaxis; preexposure prophylaxis; sexual risk practices; sexually transmitted infections.