EMIS 2017 Journal Articles 2017

Recreational and sexualised drug use among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) in Ireland–Findings from the European MSM internet survey (EMIS) 2017

PLoS One 2023;18(7):e0288171 (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0288171)

Authors: Fionn P. Daly , Kate O’Donnell, Martin P. Davoren, Chris Noone, Peter Weatherburn, Mick Quinlan, Bill Foley, Fiona Lyons, Derval Igoe, Peter Barrett



Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) report a higher prevalence of drug use in comparison to the general male population. However, in Ireland, there is a paucity of literature regarding the prevalence of drug use and its determinants among gbMSM.


To quantify the prevalence of (i) recreational drug use (RDU) and (ii) sexualised drug use (SDU) among gbMSM in Ireland, and to identify the factors associated with these drug use practices.


The European MSM Internet Survey (EMIS) 2017 was an online, anonymous, internationally-promoted questionnaire. Two binary outcomes were included in our analyses: (1) RDU and (2) SDU in the previous year. Multivariable-adjusted logistic regression explored factors associated with these outcomes, and all independent covariates were adjusted for one another.


Among gbMSM without HIV (n = 1,898), 40.9% and 13.1% engaged in RDU and SDU in the previous year, respectively. Among diagnosed-positive gbMSM (n = 141), the past-year respective prevalence estimates were 51.8% and 26.2%. Increased odds of RDU were observed among gbMSM who were younger (vs. 40+ years) (18–24 years; AOR 2.96, 95% CI 2.05–4.28, 25–39 years; AOR 1.66, 95% CI 1.27–2.16), lived in Dublin (vs. elsewhere) (AOR 1.47, 95% CI 1.17–1.83), and engaged in condomless anal intercourse (CAI) in the previous year (vs. none) (1–2 partners; AOR 1.79, 95% CI 1.34–2.38, 6+ partners; AOR 1.79, 95% CI 1.18–2.71). Greater odds of SDU were identified among those who lived in Dublin (vs. elsewhere) (AOR 1.50, 95% CI 1.07–2.10), and engaged in CAI (vs. none) (1–2 partners; AOR 3.16, 95% CI 2.05–4.88, 3–5 partners; AOR 2.50, 95% CI 1.47–4.26, and 6+ partners; AOR 3.79, 95% CI 2.23–6.43).


GbMSM report a high prevalence of drug use in Ireland. Targeted interventions, including harm reduction campaigns, may be needed to support healthier drug use choices among this community.

Available online