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EMIS 2010 Journal Articles 2010

Impact of Migration and Acculturation on Turkish Men Who have Sex with Men in Germany: Results from the 2010 European MSM Internet Survey

Archives of Sexual Behavior. 2022. (doi: 10.1007/s10508-022-02468-4)

Authors: Axel J. Schmidt, Michael W. Ross, Rigmor C. Berg, Peyman Altan

Abstract: To examine the impact of migration and acculturation of Turkish men who have sex with men (MSM) to Germany, using data from the European MSM Internet Survey (EMIS-2010), on measures of acculturation including circumcision status, internalized homonegativity (IH), HIV/STI knowledge, sexual orientation, outness, HIV-testing, and sexual behaviors.

We compared four groups of MSM: MSM born and residing in Germany who had completed the questionnaire in German (= 38,915), MSM born and residing in Germany, with a father or mother born in Turkey (= 97), MSM residing in Germany who were born in Turkey or whose parents were born in Turkey (= 262), and MSM who were born and residing in Turkey and who completed the questionnaire in Turkish (= 1,717).

Data showed that there were significant dose–response curves between level of migration and several outcome variables. As exposure to Germany increased, MSM had lower IH, higher HIV/STI knowledge, increased outness, and were less likely to be circumcised. There were similar significant findings with regard to sexual HIV risk behavior (condomless anal intercourse with partners of unknown (or sero-discordant) HIV status).

Data were consistent with acculturation over generations in immigrant groups in MSM migrating from Turkey to Germany. Integration includes both cultural aspects (circumcision) and integration into a more homopositive gay environment (IH, outness, increased HIV/STI knowledge), and sexual HIV risk behavior. Migration and associated acculturation may constitute a risk change for HIV/STI and mental health issues associated with IH and outness.

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EMIS 2017 Journal Articles 2017

Changes in the prevalence of self-reported sexually transmitted bacterial infections from 2010 and 2017 in two large European samples of men having sex with men – is it time to re-evaluate STI-screening as a control strategy?

PLoS ONE, 2021; 16(3): e0248582 (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0248582).

Authors: Ulrich Marcus, Massimo Mirandola, Susanne B Schink, Lorenzo Gios, Axel J Schmidt

Abstract

Background/Objectives: Many European countries reported increased numbers of syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) in recent years. Behaviour changes and increased testing are thought to drive these increases.

Methods: In 2010 and 2017, two large online surveys for MSM in Europe (EMIS-2010, EMIS-2017) collected self-reported data on STI diagnoses in the previous 12 months, diagnostic procedures, STI symptoms when testing, number of sexual partners, and sexual behaviours such as condom use during the last intercourse with a non-steady partner in 46 European countries. Multivariate regression models were used to analyse factors associated with diagnoses of syphilis, gonorrhoea/chlamydia, and respective diagnoses classified as symptomatic and asymptomatic. If applicable, they included country-level screening rates.

Results: Questions on STI diagnoses and sexual behaviours were answered by 156,018 (2010) and 125,837 (2017) participants. Between 2010 and 2017, overall diagnoses with gonorrhoea/chlamydia and syphilis increased by 76% and 83% across countries. Increases were more pronounced for asymptomatic compared to symptomatic infections. The proportion of respondents screened and the frequency of screening grew considerably. Condomless anal intercourse with the last non-steady partner rose by 62%; self-reported partner numbers grew. Increased syphilis diagnoses were largely explained by behavioural changes (including more frequent screening). Gonorrhoea/chlamydia increases were mainly explained by more screening and a change in testing performance. A country variable representing the proportion of men screened for asymptomatic infection was positively associated with reporting symptomatic gonorrhoea/chlamydia, but not syphilis.

Discussion/Conclusion: The positive association of country-level screening rates with the proportion of symptomatic infections with gonorrhoea/chlamydia may indicate a paradoxical effect of screening on incidence of symptomatic infections. Treatment of asymptomatic men might render them more susceptible to new infections, while spontaneous clearance may result in reduced susceptibility. Before expanding screening programmes, evidence of the effects of screening and treatment is warranted.

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EMIS 2010 Journal Articles 2010

Changes in the prevalence of self-reported sexually transmitted bacterial infections from 2010 and 2017 in two large European samples of men having sex with men – is it time to re-evaluate STI-screening as a control strategy?

PLoS ONE, 2021; 16(3): e0248582 (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0248582).

Authors: Ulrich Marcus, Massimo Mirandola, Susanne B Schink, Lorenzo Gios, Axel J Schmidt

Abstract

Background/Objectives: Many European countries reported increased numbers of syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) in recent years. Behaviour changes and increased testing are thought to drive these increases.

Methods: In 2010 and 2017, two large online surveys for MSM in Europe (EMIS-2010, EMIS-2017) collected self-reported data on STI diagnoses in the previous 12 months, diagnostic procedures, STI symptoms when testing, number of sexual partners, and sexual behaviours such as condom use during the last intercourse with a non-steady partner in 46 European countries. Multivariate regression models were used to analyse factors associated with diagnoses of syphilis, gonorrhoea/chlamydia, and respective diagnoses classified as symptomatic and asymptomatic. If applicable, they included country-level screening rates.

Results: Questions on STI diagnoses and sexual behaviours were answered by 156,018 (2010) and 125,837 (2017) participants. Between 2010 and 2017, overall diagnoses with gonorrhoea/chlamydia and syphilis increased by 76% and 83% across countries. Increases were more pronounced for asymptomatic compared to symptomatic infections. The proportion of respondents screened and the frequency of screening grew considerably. Condomless anal intercourse with the last non-steady partner rose by 62%; self-reported partner numbers grew. Increased syphilis diagnoses were largely explained by behavioural changes (including more frequent screening). Gonorrhoea/chlamydia increases were mainly explained by more screening and a change in testing performance. A country variable representing the proportion of men screened for asymptomatic infection was positively associated with reporting symptomatic gonorrhoea/chlamydia, but not syphilis.

Discussion/Conclusion: The positive association of country-level screening rates with the proportion of symptomatic infections with gonorrhoea/chlamydia may indicate a paradoxical effect of screening on incidence of symptomatic infections. Treatment of asymptomatic men might render them more susceptible to new infections, while spontaneous clearance may result in reduced susceptibility. Before expanding screening programmes, evidence of the effects of screening and treatment is warranted.

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EMIS 2010 Journal Articles 2010

Links between transactional sex and HIV/STI-risk and substance use among a large sample of European men who have sex with men.

BMC Infectious Diseases, 2019; 19(1):686 (doi: 10.1186/s12879-019-4326-3).

Authors: Rigmor C. Berg, Peter Weatherburn, Ulrich Marcus, Axel J. Schmidt

Abstract

Background: In Europe, the highest proportion of HIV diagnoses are in gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). Globally, HIV prevalence is particularly high among males who report selling sex, but rates among men who buy sex from other men are less clear. This study analyzed the association of transactional sex (TS) and HIV diagnosis, sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnoses, and various drug use; and examined the variations in TS by payment direction.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, non-randomized, observational study. This European MSM Internet Survey recruited MSM from 38 European countries. For descriptive purposes we stratified according to TS behavior (frequently selling sex, frequently buying sex, neither frequently selling nor buying sex in the previous 12 months), and we constructed separate multivariable logistic regression models to investigate whether engaging in TS accounted for some of the HIV- and STI diagnoses and drug use in this population.

Results: Of almost 161,000 sexually active MSM, 12.2% engaged in TS. The multivariable logistic regression results showed that relative to not frequently engaging in TS, frequently selling sex was independently associated with a higher odds of reporting diagnosed HIV (ever, adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.60, confidence interval [CI] 95% 1.39 to 1.85), bacterial STIs (past 12 months, aOR 1.75 CI 95% 1.54 to 2.00), using heroin or crack cocaine or injecting drugs (aOR 3.17, CI 95% 2.70 to 3.73), and using benzodiazepines (aOR 2.13, CI 95% 1.88 to 2.41). Compared to men not engaging in frequent TS, frequently buying sex was associated with a higher odds of using benzodiazepines (aOR 2.13, CI 95% 1.88 to 2.41).

Conclusions: MSM who frequently sell sex suffer greater sexual- and substance use risks than other MSM, but both men who frequently sell and those who buy sex are more likely to use benzodiazepines. MSM who sell sex to other men constitute an important at-risk population who must be offered targeted health services.

Keywords: drug use; Europe; HIV; men who have sex with men; sexually transmitted infections; transactional sex

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EMIS 2010 Journal Articles 2010

Structural validation and multiple group assessment of the short internalized homonegativity scale in homosexual and bisexual men in 38 European countries: results from the European MSM internet survey

Journal of Sex Research, 2018; 55(4-5):617-629 (doi:10.1080/00224499.2017.1380158).

Authors: Ha Tran, Michael W. Ross, Pamela M. Diamond, Rigmor C. Berg, Peter Weatherburn & Axel J. Schmidt

Abstract

Internalized homonegativity (IH) is the internalization of negative attitudes and assumptions about homosexual people by homosexual people themselves. To measure IH, Smolenski, Diamond, Ross, and Rosser (2010) and Ross, Rosser, and Smolenski (2010) revised the Reactions to Homosexuality Scale (RHS) to develop the Short Internalized Homonegativity Scale (SIHS) with eight items. Using the European Men Who Have Sex With Men Internet Survey (EMIS) data, with an analytic sample of 130,718 gay and bisexual men in 38 European countries, we confirmed the validity of the SIHS scale in both training and validation data, in strata of Ross, Berg, et al.’s (2013) three “homosexual discrimination” country clusters, of age, and of education level. However, the performance was less adequate in comparison of gay versus bisexually identified individuals. The latent SIHS structure contains only minor variations across these three strata. The seven-item scale performed as well as the eight-item scale. The SIHS is a promising candidate for standard IH measures, which is invariant across cultural, age, and educational strata.

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EMIS 2010 Journal Articles 2010

Illicit drug use among gay and bisexual men in 44 cities: Findings from the European MSM Internet Survey (EMIS)

International Journal of Drug Policy, 2016; 38:4-12 (doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.09.007).

Authors: Axel J. Schmidt, Adam Bourne, Peter Weatherburn, David Reid, Uli Marcus, Ford Hickson & The EMIS Network

Abstract

Background: Anecdotal evidence suggests that men who have sex with men (MSM) are increasingly combining sex and illicit drugs (an activity referred to as ‘chemsex’), in particular GHB/GBL, ketamine, crystal meth, or mephedrone (here called 4-chems). Use of such drugs has been associated with mental health and sexual health harms. We aim to compare patterns of illicit drug use among MSM in 44 European urban centres.

Methods: In 2010, EMIS recruited 174,209 men from 38 countries to an anonymous online questionnaire in 25 languages. As harm reduction services for drugs and sex are organised at a local level, we chose to compare cities rather than countries. We defined 44 cities based on region/postal code and settlement size. For multivariable regression analyses, three comparison groups of MSM not living in these cities were applied: MSM living in Germany, the UK, and elsewhere in Europe.

Results: Data from 55,446 MSM living in 44 urban centres were included. Use of 4-chems (past 4 weeks) was highest in Brighton (16.3%), Manchester (15.5%), London (13.2%), Amsterdam (11.2%), Barcelona (7.9%), Zurich (7.0%) and Berlin (5.3%). It was lowest in Sofia (0.4%). The rank order was largely consistent when controlling for age, HIV diagnosis, and number of sexual partners. City of residence was the strongest demographic predictor of chemsex-drug use.

Conclusion: Use of drugs associated with chemsex among MSM varies substantially across European cities. As city is the strongest predictor of chemsex-drug use, effective harm reduction programmes must include structural as well as individual interventions.

Keywords

Illicit drugs; Chemsex; MSM; Gay men; Homosexuality; Internet Survey; European cities; Substance use

© 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

For a full copy of the paper please email Ford Hickson

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EMIS 2010 Journal Articles 2010

Anti-LGBT and anti-immigrant structural stigma: an intersectional analysis of sexual minority men’s HIV risk when migrating to or within Europe

Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 2017 Dec 1; 76(4):356-366 (doi:10.1097/QAI.0000000000001519).

Authors: John E. Pachankis, Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, Rigmor C. Berg, Percy Fernández-Dávila, Massimo Mirandola, Ulrich Marcus, Peter Weatherburn, Axel J. Schmidt

Abstract

Objective: Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) might be particularly likely to migrate to experience freedoms unavailable in their home countries. Structural stigma (eg, laws and policies promoting the unequal treatment of oppressed populations) in MSM migrants’ sending and receiving countries represent potential barriers to HIV prevention among this intersectional population. This study represents the first investigation of structural determinants of HIV risk in a large, geographically diverse sample of MSM migrants.

Design: The 2010 European MSM Internet Survey (n = 23,371 migrants) was administered across 38 European countries.

Methods: Structural stigma was assessed using (1) national laws and policies promoting unequal treatment of sexual minorities across 181 countries worldwide and (2) national attitudes against immigrants in the 38 receiving countries. We also assessed linguistic status, time since migrating, and 5 HIV-prevention outcomes.

Results: Structural stigma toward sexual minorities (in sending and receiving countries) and toward immigrants (in receiving countries) was associated with a lack of HIV-prevention knowledge, service coverage, and precautionary behaviors among MSM migrants. Linguistic status and time since migrating moderated some associations between structural stigma and lack of HIV prevention.

Conclusions: Structural stigma toward MSM and immigrants represents a modifiable structural determinant of the global HIV epidemic.

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EMIS 2010 Journal Articles 2010

Factors associated with unprotected anal sex with multiple non-steady partners in the past 12 months: results from the European Men-Who-Have-Sex-With-Men Internet Survey (EMIS 2010)

BMC Public Health, 2016, 16: 47 (doi:10.1186/s12889-016-2691-z).

Authors: Sarah C. Kramer, Axel J. Schmidt, Rigmor C. Berg, Martina Furegato, Harm Hospers, Cinta Folch, Ulrich Marcus and for the EMIS Network

Abstract

Background: Practising unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) with high numbers of partners is associated with increased risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Our aim was to describe factors associated with UAI with multiple partners in a large sample of MSM from 38 European countries recruited for an online survey in 2010.

Methods: Data are from the European Men-Who-Have-Sex-With-Men Internet Survey (EMIS). The analysis was restricted to men who reported any anal sex with a non-steady partner in the past 12 months, and who were either never diagnosed with HIV, or who had been diagnosed with HIV more than 12 months ago, reported a detectable viral load and did not exclusively serosort (n = 91,477). Multivariable logistic regression was used to compare men reporting UAI with four or more (4+) non-steady partners to two comparison groups: a) no UAI with non-steady partners, and b) UAI with 1-3 non-steady partners.

Results: Overall, 9.6 % of the study population reported UAI with 4+ partners in the past 12 months. In both models, factors consistently associated with this behaviour were: having been diagnosed with HIV, lower educational levels, use of nitrite inhalants, drugs associated with sex and parties, or erectile dysfunction drugs in the past 4 weeks, using sex-on-site venues in the past 4 weeks, buying or selling sex in the past 12 months, having experienced physical violence due to sexual attraction to men in the past 12 months, reporting sexual happiness, being out to all or almost all of one’s acquaintances, and knowing that ART reduces HIV transmissibility.

Conclusions: Effective antiretroviral treatment drastically reduces HIV transmission for men diagnosed with HIV, irrespective of partner numbers. Apart from reducing partner numbers or increasing condom use no other recommendations are currently in place to reduce the risk of HIV acquisition and onward transmission for HIV-negative men practicing UAI with multiple partners. A range of factors were identified as associated with UAI with four or more partners which allow the strengthening and targeting of prevention strategies to reduce HIV transmission risks resulting from condomless anal intercourse with multiple partners.

© 2016 Kramer et al. Open Access

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EMIS 2010 Journal Articles 2010

Men who have sex with men in Great Britain: comparing methods and estimates from probability and convenience sample surveys

Sexually Transmitted Infections, 2016, 92:455-463 (doi:10.1136/sextrans-2015-052389).

Authors: Philip Prah, Ford Hickson, Chris Bonell, Lisa M McDaid, Anne M Johnson, Sonali Wayal, Soazig Clifton, Pam Sonnenberg, Anthony Nardone, Bob Erens, Andrew J Copas, Julie Riddell, Peter Weatherburn, Catherine H Mercer

Abstract

Objective: To examine sociodemographic and behavioural differences between men who have sex with men (MSM) participating in recent UK convenience surveys and a national probability sample survey.

Methods: We compared 148 MSM aged 18–64 years interviewed for Britain’s third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) undertaken in 2010–2012, with men in the same age range participating in contemporaneous convenience surveys of MSM: 15 500 British resident men in the European MSM Internet Survey (EMIS); 797 in the London Gay Men’s Sexual Health Survey; and 1234 in Scotland’s Gay Men’s Sexual Health Survey. Analyses compared men reporting at least one male sexual partner (past year) on similarly worded questions and multivariable analyses accounted for sociodemographic differences between the surveys.

Results: MSM in convenience surveys were younger and better educated than MSM in Natsal-3, and a larger proportion identified as gay (85%–95% vs 62%). Partner numbers were higher and same-sex anal sex more common in convenience surveys. Unprotected anal intercourse was more commonly reported in EMIS. Compared with Natsal-3, MSM in convenience surveys were more likely to report gonorrhoea diagnoses and HIV testing (both past year). Differences between the samples were reduced when restricting analysis to gay-identifying MSM.

Conclusions: National probability surveys better reflect the population of MSM but are limited by their smaller samples of MSM. Convenience surveys recruit larger samples of MSM but tend to over-represent MSM identifying as gay and reporting more sexual risk behaviours. Because both sampling strategies have strengths and weaknesses, methods are needed to triangulate data from probability and convenience surveys.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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EMIS 2010 Journal Articles 2010

Determinants of never having tested for HIV among MSM in the Netherlands

BMJ Open. 2016, 12;6(1):e009480 (doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009480).

Authors: den Daas C, Doppen M, Schmidt AJ, Op de Coul E

Abstract

Objectives: Men who have sex with men (MSM) who are unaware of their HIV infection are more likely to infect others, and unable to receive treatment. Therefore, we aimed to identify the proportion and characteristics of Dutch MSM who never tested for HIV.

Methods: In 2010, the European MSM Internet Survey (EMIS) recruited 174,209 men from 38 countries through an anonymous online questionnaire in 25 languages. We analysed data from participants living in the Netherlands (N=3787). The outcome we investigated was having never (lifetime) been tested for HIV.

Results: A total of 770 MSM (20.4%) had never been tested for HIV. In multivariate regression analyses, not being from Amsterdam (adjusted OR, aOR 1.54, CI 1.17 to 2.03), with low education (aOR 1.28, CI 1.04 to 1.57) and low knowledge on HIV-testing (aOR 2.23, CI 1.37 to 3.64) were significantly associated with never having tested. Lower sexual risk (including having fewer sexual partners (aOR 2.19, CI 1.57 to 3.04) and no anal intercourse (aOR 5.99, CI 3.04 to 11.77)), and less social engagement (including being less out (aOR 1.93, CI 1.55 to 2.40)) were also associated with having never been tested. Additionally, 36.1% of MSM who never tested for HIV reported high-risk sexual behaviour that may have put them at HIV risk.

Conclusions: MSM make their own risk assessments that inform their choices about HIV-testing. Nevertheless, MSM who were never tested may have been at risk for HIV, and remain important to target for HIV interventions.

Keywords

Epidemiology, Public Health

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