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1 Jan 2010

Fridae.com launches Asia's largest-ever Internet gay sex survey in 10 languages

If you are a man who has sex with other men, or a transgendered person, we invite you to participate in our community-driven survey. Participation is open to all those living in Asia.

Asia’s leading gay website Fridae.com will launch the 2010 Asia Internet MSM Sex Survey (AIMSS) on January 1, 2010.

Offered simultaneously in English, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese, Thai, Tagalog, Hindi, Melayu (Bahasa Malaysia) and Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia), the the 2010 Asia Internet MSM Sex Survey (AIMSS)  is expected to be the largest and most comprehensive pan-Asian Internet surveys of MSM and TG.

[MSM (men who have sex with men) is an inclusive public health term used to describe sexual behaviours, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity; and includes self-identified gay, bisexual, or heterosexual men, as well as transgendered people (TG).]

The 140-question survey will focus on sexual and social behaviour of MSM and will query respondents about their HIV testing history, knowledge and attitudes towards HIV, drug and alcohol use, and travel history. It will take about 10 minutes to finish, and is completely anonymous and confidential. The information gathered will be used to design and improve the programs and interventions to reduce HIV and STI transmission among MSM and TG Internet users.

“With broadband Internet penetration growing exponentially throughout Asia, more gay men are citing the Internet as the most common ‘venue’ through which to meet other men,” said Dr Stuart Koe, principal investigator of the 2010 AIMSS. Dr Koe is also the founder and CEO of Fridae.com.

“By offering AIMSS in different Asian languages, we hope to have a much deeper understanding of the social contexts and sexual behaviours of gays on the Internet, especially non-English speaking ones, which in turn gives us the much needed strategic intelligence to address the rapidly rising HIV infections in this demographic population.”

AIMSS is a community-initiated study primarily self-funded by Fridae.com, with partial supporting funds from the Hong Kong Department of Health. Logistics and marketing support is being provided by a coalition of community partners including community based organisations, academic researchers, and gay-friendly business owners in major cities across Asia.

In 2009, a similar survey conducted by Fridae (in English) attracted almost 8,000 respondents majority of whom live in Singapore, Malaysia, USA, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand and China. The 2009 MSM Sex Survey Final Report which was released to the public on Dec 24, 2009 can be downloaded from http://www.msmsexsurvey.com/report.pdf. (Key findings and conclusions are attached below.)

The 2010 Asia Internet MSM Sex Survey will run from Jan 1-Feb 28, 2010.

Reader's Comments

Comment #1 was deleted by its author on 2010-01-01 12:16
2. 2010-01-01 03:42  
Congrats. Its an effort no matter how small to try to find out what makes the whole she bang tick. And that is a good start. =D
3. 2010-01-01 07:18  
This is outstanding work. Good job Fridae.com! Groundbreaking work.
4. 2010-01-01 07:26  
@1

That's a fantastic, well-thought-out and carefully considered opinion.

Whoops, I'm in bizarro-world. What's your problem?
5. 2010-01-02 09:04  
the 2009 survey link mentioned in the article does not seem to be working now. when i tried to obtain it, i received this message:

"The requested URL /report.pdf was not found on this server."

6. 2010-01-02 11:39  
Its really good to see people are making efforts to make difference and creating an awareness , while taking this survey I found some of the questions seems not really suitable for ever single gay men , at least for me , I mean I didn't see questions if we had oral sex with or without condoms ? or some of similar questions but over all really good hope it help people to know where they are , well done and good work , cheers
7. 2010-01-02 20:47  
@travelfun: try the link below

http://www.msmsexsurvey.com/report.php
8. 2010-01-02 21:20  
#6: Actually unprotected oral sex carries some risk of STD infections. Although the risk of unprotected oral sex is much lower than unprotected anal sex (10-20 times lower risk), it is still a significant problem in this era of Convenient Internet Hooking. So, if we leave this area alone, we may send a wrong message that unprotected oral sex, no matter how frequent, is OK. But it's not OK. Statistically, if you have 10-20 times more unprotected oral sex than another who has unprotected anal sex, your chance of being infected is equally high.

The advent of internet social networking, IRC, budget airlines and rapid urbanisation in developing nations will lead to an exponential growth in both the mean and the medium casual sex encounters of MSM. Consequently, even a relatively low risk sexual behaviour like unprotected oral sex may contribute to a rise in HIV infection rate. Remember that:
Odd of being infected =Per-Contact Risk x Number of Contacts.
So, if the Number of Contacts increases, even a low per-contact risk activity like unprotected oral sex will pose a risk. And, once a person is infected, he can't get rid of this infection for life.

While I am glad that Fridae is taking an important step to obtain data that is valuable to to public health officials and NGOs, I think an even more important area to work on is the removal of legal barriers to these organisations' efforts. If 377a and the ban on comprehensive sexuality education are not removed, stigma and ignorance will continue to prevail. Subsidies for HIV medicine will still be unavailable, so people will continue to stay away from screening and counselling because detection of HIV infection will continue to be regarded as a economic and career death sentence. HIV-positive people will continue to cruise underground- without having received counselling, treatment and other support.

So, following success in conducting this large-scale online survey, Fridae could conduct other surveys that will help policy-makers to review their stance. A few types of evidence that policy-makers need to review their stance are:
1) Repeal of 377a does not lead to surge in heterosexual men converting into homosexuals (who knows, maybe those smarter-than-shrinks fundamentalists who specialise in 'change therapy' can turn straight men into gays, but gays don't have such capability, sorry!). Good questions to ask would be (to straight men and married men):Will you turn gay if the government repeals 377a?

2) Repeal of 377a does not lead to gay community's pressing for gay marriage and destroying the institution of marriage. Good questions to ask (gays): How many % of gays strongly insist on marrying a man in Singapore?

3) Repeal of 377a does not lead to surge in HIV infection. Good questions to ask (counter-HIV organisations around the world): Do you think removal of sodomy law and discriminative laws will worsen the HIV crisis?

4) Repeal of 377a does not lead to public protest. Good questions to ask (the public): Will you demonstrate to strongly oppose to the repeal of 377a criminalising sex between consenting male adults inside their bedroom?

5) Repeal of 377a does not mean endorsement of 'homosexual lifestyle'. Good question to ask (the public): Do you feel that the government is encouraging more straight Singaporeans to turn gay if they repeal 377a criminalising consensual gay adults who have sex inside their bedroom?

6) Homosexual sex cannot be 'encouraged'. Good question to ask (the public): Do you think you will change your sexual preference (for gays) just because the government tolerates gay adults in various ways, including to work in the civil service and to have their private space?

7) Repeal of 377a important to fight against HIV. Good questions to ask (NGOs): Do you think repeal of sodomy laws and other discriminative laws against homosexuals is important in the fight against HIV?

8) Repeal of 377a important to MNCs. Good questions to ask (HR directors of MNCs in the West that have anti-discriminative policies): Do you think removal of discriminative laws and policies is important to nurturing a creative and productive workforce?

9) Repeal of 377a is just. Good question to ask (the public): Do you think it is just to put two gay adults who have private consensual sex inside their own bedroom in Singapore behind bars for 2 years? Do you think tax money is well-spent to investigate, prosecute and jail for 2 years two gay adults who had private consensual sex inside their own bedroom?

10) 377a doesn't change gays' sexual orientation. Good question to ask (gays): Do you think you will turn straight just because we have 377a? (to psychologists): What effects does 377a have on the mental health of gays? Positive or negative?

Comment edited on 2010-01-02 21:26:26
9. 2010-01-03 02:48  
great , really good job Fridae, Congrats from Mexico ^^
10. 2010-01-03 05:40  
it benifits gays and I totally support firdae on this survery!!
every gay should take part in it
11. 2010-01-03 17:26  
thanks, lotsofcoffee. that's what i needed.

i'd like to take the survey but wonder about privacy. the introductory text says "It is completely anonymous - no names are recorded -" but simply not taking names is not equal to complete anonymity on the internet. are IP addresses recorded? i'd like to see a more thorough and appropriate privacy policy, after which i'll be glad to provide my respond. i do agree that it's an important and valuable exercise.
12. 2010-01-03 22:32  
#11. The point is if you have some unfounded fear about revealing your identity you can always use a cybercafe. It is important to record the IP address as a means to safeguard against potential spammers. There is also no reason to doubt that the organiser has any ulterior motive to misuse the data and IP addresses that may get the respondents into trouble. If Fridae had such ulterior motive, thousands of its members in countries that criminalise gay sex would have gotten into trouble by indicating that they are top, versatile or bottom on their profiles, which suggests that they had practiced gay sex before. Since this survey is led by Fridae's CEO and not any governmental agency you should have full confidence that the ultimate motive is to empower-not prosecute- the LGBT community. Moreover, if this survey's website and Fridae's office are both hosted in HK, there is no other government or court that may force such private information to be disclosed, except that of HK. And I would doubt that the HK government or court would have any basis to force Fridae to disclose such private information. HK's court maintains the jury system and its laws are essentially English. In short, if Fridae's management and HK's government and court DO NOT cause such disclosure, you can be quite confident that your information will be kept private.
Comment edited on 2010-01-04 09:10:20
13. 2010-01-04 07:37  
#11

We record your IP address so we can filter out duplicates.

The point is, we do not and never will ask for your name or email address, so there is no *personally identifiable* information collected as part of the survey.

There are functions on the site to request a copy of the report and send details about the survey to your friends, but that data is stored separately (and without an IP address) so it can't be linked back to the survey information.

#12

In the interests of full disclosure, our website isn't hosted in Hong Kong, it's in a data center in the USA. This should make no difference anyway.

For others:

Thankyou for the (mostly...) kind comments regarding the survey. It's great to see so much support from the community.
14. 2010-01-04 20:52  
in order for this gay sex survey to reflect its high accuracy , all those taking part in this survey must be very honest in providing the answers.
15. 2010-01-05 10:02  
I liked the survey but it is kinda weird that more than 50% of questions are HIV related... Well I don't mind to see the effort of education but I would like to see more questions related real life like if I'm out socially or not... or relationship with family or interest in same sex marrige etc..
16. 2010-01-05 10:15  
um... maybe it was my mistake to think it was gay life survey haha..
17. 2010-01-07 21:12  
Just like the previous survey this one assumes that if you have had sex then it has been anal sex. I have had sex, but it has not been anal. As a result I cannot answer Question 4.9. If I leave the question unanswered I am prevented from proceeding with the survey.
There is a flaw with this survey.
18. 2010-01-08 13:27  
Great, I accept this. This is helpful survey in future. Thanks for Fridae
ILU (^^)
Comment #19 was deleted by its author on 2010-01-10 17:32
20. 2010-01-10 17:34  
#17 - Troy_HK you are absolutely correct. This question should only have been shown only to people who had answered yes to any of the anal sex questions. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We will make the necessary changes asap.

[2pm 11 Jan 2009] This question has now been fixed. It will only appear if you have ever had anal sex with another male during the previous 6 months. Thank you again for bringing this to our attention.
Comment edited on 2010-01-11 14:18:33
21. 2010-01-16 23:43  
Great, I accept this!!!
22. 2010-01-17 01:27  
Once again, the aimss misses the mark substantially. As in previous years, no question has related to those who are in a long-term intercontinental relationship. In this day and age, it is imperative that we understand that long-distance relationships not only do exist but are working. Further, it is negligent on the part of the aimss sponsors to not acknowledge these relationships exist and work.

I've been in a long-term, sero-discordant relationship for the past five years. I'm positive while my partner is negative. We at best have sex once or twice a year and remain monogamous but what of those who have open relationships?

PLEASE aimss, I implore you to begin tracking these types of relationships as necessary data within this study!
23. 2010-01-22 05:34  
Hi there

As this survey is aimed eqiually at MSM and transgeders, I would like to offer some feedback to asssit in future surveys being more accessible to trans folks

Question 1.1 - whar sex are you: Male, Female, Female to male transgender, Male to female transgender, Intersex.

There needs to be an "other - please specify" option here to cover possbilities such as genderqueer.

2.3 Do you think of yourself as: Gay/Homosexual, Bisexual, Heterosexual. Transgender, Others

A person experiencing trans issues has a sexual orientation. By only allowing one option to answer this question it means trans people have to deny a part of themselves. It also implies trans is a sexual orientation, which is not correct.

The survey assumes the respondent has a penis. If the respondent is a post surgery trans woman (MTF) this is not the case, if the respondent is a trans man (FTM) highly unlikely.

i hope this information is helpful.

Sally

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