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Original article
Use of geosocial networking applications is independently associated with diagnosis of STI among men who have sex with men testing for STIs: findings from the cross-sectional MSM Internet Survey Ireland (MISI) 2015
  1. Lois O’Connor1,2,
  2. Kate O'Donnell2,
  3. Peter Barrett3,
  4. Ford Colin Ian Hickson4,
  5. Daniel McCartney5,
  6. Mick Quinlan6,
  7. Alicia Barrasa1,7,
  8. Margaret Fitzgerald2,
  9. Derval Igoe2
  1. 1 European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2 Health Protection Surveillance Centre, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3 Department of Public Health (HSE-South), St. Finbarr’s Hospital, Corkz, Ireland
  4. 4 Sigma Research, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  5. 5 London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  6. 6 Gay Health Network: Formally Manager Gay Men's Health Service (Retired), Dublin, Ireland
  7. 7 Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Lois O’Connor, Health Protection Surveillance Centre, Dublin 1, Ireland; lois_oconnor{at}


Objectives MSM Internet Survey Ireland (MISI) 2015 was an anonymous, self-completed, cross-sectional internet survey assessing sexual behaviours and health needs among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Ireland. We explored factors associated with self-reported STI diagnosis among MSM who were sexually active and had an STI test in the previous year.

Methods We compared the study population (n=1158; 37% of total population), with the sexually active MISI population not testing for STIs (n=1620; 52% of total population). Within the study population, we identified sociodemographics and sexual behaviours associated with self-reporting STI diagnosis. We used multivariable logistic regression to estimate adjusted odds ratios (aORs).

Results The sociodemographics, lifestyle and sexual behaviours of the study population differed significantly from the sexually active MISI population who did not test for STIs. Within the study population, 65% met a sexual partner via geosocial networking smartphone application (GSNa) and 21% self-reported an STI diagnosis in the previous year. On univariable analysis, factors associated with STI diagnosis included: older age, identifying as gay, HIV-positive status, increasing number of sexual partners in the previous year, condomless anal intercourse (CAI) with ≥2 non-steady partners and using GSNa to meet a new sexual partner in the previous year or most recent sexual partner. On multivariable analysis, STI diagnosis was associated with: being aged 25–39 years (aOR 1.8, 95% CI 1.04 to 3.15), CAI with ≥2 non-steady partners (aOR 2.8, 95% CI 1.84 to 4.34), total number of sexual partners (aOR 1.02, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.03) and using GSNa to meet a new sexual partner (aOR 1.95, 95% CI 1.12 to 3.39).

Conclusions STI diagnosis among MSM testing for STIs is associated with GSNa use, as well as sexual behaviours. GSNas are key settings for STI prevention interventions, which should prioritise men with high numbers of sexual partners and those with multiple CAI partners.

  • men who have sex with men
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • social networking
  • sexual behaviour

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  • Handling editor Claudia S Estcourt

  • Contributors LO wrote the first draft of the manuscript and amended subsequent drafts based on coauthor contributions. FCIH wrote the survey on which MISI was based and was involved in its adaptation. KO, MF, DI, MQ and DM were involved in the design and conducting of the MISI survey, and DI and MQ were involved in promotion activities encouraging participation. PB, KO and MF were involved in the analysis of the original data from MISI. LO, KO, MF, PB, FCIH, AB and DI were involved in the design of the statistical analysis for this paper. LO performed the data analysis. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the results for this study. All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript, provided comments and agreed the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval for MISI 2015 was given by the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland in December 2014.ID number: RECSAF 30

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Currently, the unpublished MISI data are currently available. It is planned that the entire dataset will be uploaded to the Irish Social Science Data Archive ( in the near future.