More on statistics about gay sex

This post from FS Magazine‘s editor Ian Howley about a survey the magazine conducted recently touches on some of the exact issues I talked about in my posts about statistics and gay sex last week, so I thought I’d share it.

The post is headlined “You won’t believe how many gay men didn’t use condoms the last time they had sex” and it offers this piece of information:
72% of gay men said they didn’t use condoms the last time they had sex. 

Although the headline and stat are deliberately alarming and sensational, Howley’s point is actually to criticise the misuse and abuse of statistics. Noting that “stats can be great to bring attention to a topic but they can also be used to manipulate a story,” he explains that this 72% figure includes all kinds of sex, not just anal sex.

Continue reading More on statistics about gay sex

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Surveys, statistics & fearmongering about gay sex (part 2)

My last post looked at how the Irish Independent presented some recent findings from the first Healthy Ireland Survey regarding condom use among gay and bisexual men in Ireland. The Independent made the alarming claim that “risky sex is widespread among gay men,” but a careful examination showed that while that may or may not be true, it was a misleading interpretation of what was reported in the Summary of Findings from the survey.

In this post I’ll look at some other claims in the article and think about what kinds of information would be helpful for efforts to turn around the rising rates of new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men in Ireland.

Continue reading Surveys, statistics & fearmongering about gay sex (part 2)

Surveys, statistics & fearmongering about gay sex (part 1)

Is risky sex widespread among gay men in Ireland? A recent article in the Irish Independent told us that a new survey shows it is.

It’s true that there’s been a dramatic increase in new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men in Ireland over the last decade—clearly something troubling is happening. There’s no doubt that we should be doing more to reduce the number of new infections.

One of the challenges we face is that we lack reliable information about what precisely is happening. We tend to see only rough figures that lack detail or context, figures that are easily framed by the media in ways that are alarming but misleading.

So what does this new survey actually say about the kind of sex gay and bisexual men are having? Does it shed any light on why new diagnoses are rising so dramatically?

Continue reading Surveys, statistics & fearmongering about gay sex (part 1)