Background: In 2000 the BC Centre for Disease Control recorded a 33% increase in HIV positive tests among gay men, a reversal of a five year downward trend. A rapid assessment carried out by CBRC in 2000 showed that this decline in infection rates had left HIV prevention programs with few financial resources, little reliable knowledge that could explain the increases, and no community infrastructure to lead the way. As we would soon find out, this pattern of neglect was being repeated in gay populations worldwide.
CBRC undertook initiatives to respond to the emerging situation. We began to organize the existing gay health leadership to undertake research that would uncover the circumstances surrounding HIV increases and other sexual health issues. CBRC reached out to Sigma Research in the United Kingdom for assistance. Sigma had been doing an annual survey at Pride events since the early 90’s.
With the support of a capacity building grant from the Community Based Research Program at Health Canada, CBRC consulted with researcher Ford Hickson in the development of the first Sex Now questionnaire and Sigma’s strategies for survey dissemination. Representatives from BC Centre for Disease Control, ASIA (now closed), AIDS Vancouver, AIDS Vancouver Island, BC Persons with AIDS Society (now Living Positive BC) and Prince George’s GALA North worked with Terry Trussler, Rick Marchand and Andrew Barker from CBRC on a plan to roll out Sex Now 2002.
Sex Now 2002
During the summer of 2002, CBRC conducted the first survey at Pride events in Victoria, Vancouver and Prince George. An impressive 1854 men took the time to answer the survey. Our appreciation item to those who answered the survey: the Sex Now dog tag. The survey of gay men was BC’s largest to date. BC Centre for Disease Control provided a financial contribution to assist with data collection. We received a grant from the Vancouver Foundation to analyze the data and prepare reports.
Sex Now 2003
CBRC wrote up the results of Sex Now 2002 in a report to those working and volunteering with gay men’s health called Sex Now: by the numbers. We also wrote up a community report called Sex Now: do the math! targeting gay men directly. We distributed do the math! at Pride events. We also piloted a short survey of 250 men to test some questions in preparation for Sex Now 2004.
Sex Now 2004
This was our biggest BC survey for gay men ever! We collected 2800 surveys at Pride events in Kelowna, Nanaimo, Victoria, Vancouver, Prince George and Nelson. The guys loved the dog tags.
We piloted some questions on the internet. The research was supported by grants from the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Sex Now 2005
CBRC distributed Sex Now: do it again! to gay men at Pride 2005. This was the community report about survey 2004.
We also wrote a full report called Sex Now: numbers rising to those working and volunteering in gay men’s health. We piloted a short survey to 440 men to test out some new questions.
Sex Now 2006
CBRC moved from doing a paper at Pride survey to doing the Sex Now survey online and got 1331 responses from men across BC. Online surveys were becoming very popular. Sigma Research had moved to an online survey.
Sex Now 2007
The emphasis in 2007 was to get more young gay men involved in doing the online survey. We promoted the survey online among young gay men; we promoted the survey at Pride both in the Parade and at the Festival. We were successful. Of the 1533 men answering the survey, 31% were under 30 and 23% were under 26. This was higher than in previous years. This research was supported by a grant from the Vancouver Foundation.
Sex Now 2008
1367 guys responded to the 2008 online survey. We asked some new questions about sexual style and gay porn. Data from Sex Now 2007 and 2008 was used in the Vancouver Foundation funded report, “Culture, Health & Technology: Shaping the Future of Gay Men’s Lives”. Research Team: Terry Trussler, Rick Marchand and Olivier Ferlatte.
Sex Now 2010
In December 2009 we launched Sex Now survey 2010 with a theme of “Sex on your mind?” The goal was to investigate issues of mental wellness and gay men. This survey was our first real attempt to collect data on the social determinants of health for gay men. With no formal funding and a lot of enthusiasm, we decided to promote and disseminate the online survey nationally. We were overwhelmed with a response of 7910 participants from across the country. We have distributed community reports in English and French: Sex Now: 2010 Survey Report and Sex Now: Rapport du sondage 2010.
Sex Now 2011
This survey was focused on the social determinants of health and was constructed with the assistance of a team of young gay men called the Investigaytors. 8607 men participated from September 2011 to February 2012. This research was funded by the Vancouver Foundation. The Young Investigaytor Team has expanded.