Ever thought that what you think is of no interest to anyone else? Well, have I got an offer for you!

At Midsumma Carnival last Sunday and during this week in a number of medical clinics, gay bars and sex-on-premises venues, your voice and your views will be highly sought-after.

In particular, and in this instance, it is in relation to the annual Melbourne Gay Community Periodic Survey.

The Melbourne Gay Community Periodic Survey has been distributed on Carnival Day and in venues and clinics for the past 14 years. It has helped to provide a snapshot of gay and bisexual guys’ sexual practices related to the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

At Carnival you would have seen a team of guys handing out clipboards, surveys and pencils for you to self-complete your survey. The survey only takes between five-10 minutes to complete as not all questions will be relevant to everybody.

Of course, all your answers are completely confidential: there are no sections to fill out about who you are or where you live. The questions ask about the number of sex partners you have and the sorts of relationships you enjoy.

There are questions about oral and anal sex, how recently you had a HIV or other STI test, whether you use condoms for anal sex, about recreational drugs and your HIV status.

If you missed seeing us at Carnival on Sunday, in the clinics and venues this week you will be given a clipboard with the survey on it with a pencil to fill it in. In the sex venues and pubs you will be offered a lolly to help your concentration.

The recruiters will be on hand to help you with any difficult questions. The survey is designed to be as easy as possible to complete, but feel welcome to ask if you need assistance.

In each state and territory there are similar surveys conducted every year. The questions, apart from a few slight differences, are basically the same to allow for a comparison about the lives of men who have sex with men around Australia.

The data from Melbourne men together with the data from other states helps to inform HIV organisations when they determine policy and education strategies about what works well to reduce HIV and other STI transmission.

Look out for us in clinics, bars and sex clubs until Sunday. Have your say and perhaps you can help to make a difference in the type and style of health promotion and educational campaigns here in Victoria!

By TEX MCKENZIE, State Coordinator MGCPS 2012

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