January marks the start of the LGBTI festival season in Australia and also marks the the time when one of the most important pieces of annual research about men’s sexual health happens.
In the southern Australia, the Melbourne Gay Community Periodic Survey (MGCPS) has just been launched again.
The annual survey takes a snapshot of sexual practices of men who have sex with other men in relation to the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
The MGCPS is open to gay and bisexual men who have had sex with men (MSM) in the past five years. It is open to all qualifying men in Melbourne or who participate in the Melbourne gay community
Open now until Sunday 21 January, men in Melbourne can complete the survey at a range of locations including; medical clinics, social venues such as pubs and bars, and sex-on-premises venues.
Since 1998 the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC), Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH) and the Kirby Institute at UNSW have carried out the MGCPS.
The survey has become an important marker for the MSM community because it gives a snapshot of the lives of gay and homosexually active men in Melbourne from year to year.
‘The Periodic Survey is an important piece of research that helps us target not only campaigns around HIV and STI-prevention, but around mental health issues and alcohol and drug use in our community as well,’ said VAC CEO Simon Ruth.
‘The data we gather from the survey over time is an invaluable resource for both state-based and national campaigns.’
It allows comparisons to be made over time and for a picture to emerge of the changes in sexual practices and partnering habits, drug use, HIV and STI rates, and testing habits.
‘All same-sex attracted guys are welcome to complete this annual survey — gay, bi, trans and non-binary both HIV negative and HIV Positive,’ said the MGCPS’ Victorian coordinator, Tex McKenzie.
‘New questions added this year include adding the gender assigned at birth and a question asking if participants have been vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B.
‘And not all questions need to be answered by everyone; there are specific questions for men who are living with HIV as well as general questions that everyone can answer.’