The Annual All-Ireland Gay Health Forum (GHF)

Since 2003 the Gay Men’s Health Service (GMHS) along with Gay Health Network (GHN) has organised the Annual All Ireland Gay Health Forums (GHF) in June each year.  The forum is kindly supported by the Minister of Health, Chairperson of the National AIDS Strategy Committee and the Department of Health and Children. The fora provide an opportunity for participants to learn, share ideas, experiences and skills, and network.  Many presentations from the all the Gay Health Fora are available in PDF from or

GHF 13 - 13th Annual Gay Health Forum

HSE and partners host 13th Annual Gay Health Forum in Dublin Castle

The HSE Gay Men's Health Service (GMHS) today (Friday June 5th) launched its 2014 Annual Report at the 13th Annual Gay Health Forum in Dublin Castle.  The Gay Health Forum is an annual learning event hosted by the HSE Gay Men's Health Service (GMHS) and Gay Health Network (GHN), with the support of the Department of Health, the National AIDS Strategy Committee (NASC) and the HSE National Office for Social Inclusion.

In 2014 6,050 men attended the service resulting in 850 diagnoses in GMHS in 2014, summarised as follows: 

• 338 Gonorrhoea - a 17% increase over 2013

(38% were first time patients to GMHS).

• 214 Chlamydia - similar to 2013

(40% were first time patients to GMHS).

• 50 HIV – an increase of 30% over 2013

(58% were first time patients to GMHS).

• 84 Syphilis - an 18% increase over 2013

(62% were first time patients to GMHS).

Mr. Mick Quinlan, Manager, HSE GMHS, highlighted the increase in attendance in 2014; “ 926 of men were first-time attendees, a 7% increase on 2012. 37% were aged 24 or younger, rising to 68% for those aged 29 and younger.”  

The service has also seen changes in the demographic profile of clients, with 51% of attendees born abroad, an increase of 23% over 2013. 388 men (42%) had never tested for HIV previously and 510 (55%) had never tested for STIs previously.

First time attendances to GMHS represent a significant percentage (40%) of those diagnosed with an STI infection or HIV (58%) or Syphilis (62%).

Launching the event,  Jerry Buttimer T.D., Chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children commented “Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) are recognised as a key target group for HIV prevention, sexual health awareness.   Addressing these concerns in a holistic and comprehensive manner is an important approach already outlined in  the National Strategy for HIV, the Healthy Ireland Framework and forthcoming National Sexual Health Strategy.” 

The Gay Men’s Health Service (GMHS) has been in operation for 22 years from its main base in Baggot Street Hospital, providing HIV and STI testing and prevention, sexual health awareness, and care and support services for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people.

The Gay Men’s Health Service also enhanced access to HIV and STI testing in 2014.   A nurse led assessment for asymptomatic patients was introduced  at Baggot St. Hospital. Between September and the end of December, 445 patients provided a self-testing swab as part of the HIV and STI test. Just over one in eight (12%) patients had an unsuspected STI.  

In November 2014, as part of European HIV Testing Week, a nurse led GMHS outreach service was established at Outhouse LGBT Community Centre, Capel St. This has continued on the third Saturday of each month to coincide with the sexual health information drop-in run by the Gay Switchboard Ireland. Three outreach clinics were held between November and  December. Of the 38 men tested, 11% received a diagnosis of HIV, Syphilis and Chlamydia.

Patrick Lynch, National Director, Quality Assurance and Verification, HSE commented: ‘It’s important that we find ways to ensure that a higher proportion of sexually active gay and bisexual men seek STI screening services and that we build on increased levels of confidence that services are accessible and follow this with higher testing rate. The high rates of HIV for MSM along with the significant increase in other STIs such as Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, LGV and Syphilis, highlights the importance of a targeted service for MSM”.

MISI 2015 survey

Dr. Derval Igoe, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, HPSC, presented on the successful communications campaign that encouraged MSM to take part in the MISI 2015 survey which was open from March to the end of May 2015.  MISI 2015 is a cross-sectoral partnership of statutory organisations NGOs and voluntary organisations working in the area of HIV prevention and sexual health, consisting of the HSE’s Gay Men’s Health Service (GMHS), Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (CPP), and the Gay Health Network (GHN).

The survey asked about relationships, sex life, behaviours, risks and precautions, and use of health services. The survey had over 3,000 respondents. The findings will be published early in 2016 and will be used to identify trends in the behaviour, needs and interventions affecting HIV infection and sexual health among MSM living in Ireland and to inform the planning of HIV/STI prevention interventions for MSM.

Sexual Health Advice and Guidance (SHAG) Week

The HSE Crisis Preganncy Programme and Union Student’s of Ireland (USI)  ran a Pilot Project for Free STI testing as part of Sexual Health Advice and Guidance (SHAG) Week at DIT Aungier Street and Carlow IT.

Overall 171 people were tested (85 at DIT Aungier St., and 86 at Carlow Its. Of the 171 participants , 145  (85%) of the sexually active students had never tested for HIV or STIs previously. 

Of the 169 students tested for STIs; nine (5.3%) tested positive for Chlamydia and six (66.7%) of these were female. Seven (77.8%) of the diagnosed students had never tested for STI’s previously.  No one tested positive for HIV, Syphilis or Gonorrhoea .

Man2Man Programme

Man2Man is the National HIV and sexual health programme for MSM run by the Gay Health Network and Gay Men’s Health Service.   The website saw a 54% increase in website visits, 457% increase in Facebook followers, and ran a number of events for Irish AIDS Day, World AIDS Day, World Hepatitis Day, Dublin, Limerick and Cork Prides, and European HIV Testing Week.

The Gay Men’s Health Service Annual Report 2014 and presentations are available on  or  

Visit for sexual health advice, information and access to free STI services, and new service locator map.

GHF 12 - 12th Annual Gay Health Forum

June 6th 2014, Dublin Castle.

GHF 11 - 11th Annual Gay Health Forum: Man2Man

This year the Annual Gay Health Forum (GHF) was held at the HSE headquarters Dr Steevens' Hospital with the theme Man2Man. Details of the forum and three reports are available in the GHN's "On the One Road Newsletter 18". Chaired by Dr Nazih Eldin, (Head of Health Promotion DNE and Chair of the Education and Prevention Committee NASC) the Forum was officially launched by Patrick Lynch (Assistant National Director, Office of the Chief Operating Officer). Mick Quinlan (Manager GMHS) launched GMHS 20, the Annual Report 2012 and Men from Afar 4. The GHF 11 presentations are available to download below:

HIV Trends in Ireland:

Gonorrhoea (GC): (chaired by Tom Doyle, Director Yorkshire MESMAC)

MSM Research:

5th Noel Walsh Memorial Presentation: (chaired by Lysander Preston, Positive Now)

  • Susan Donlon launched the report on the joint GHN and HSE Man2Man 2011/2012 Programme

MSM Community Promotions:

GHF10: The 10th Annual Gay Health Forum, Friday 8th June 2012, Dublin Castle

GHF 9: 2011 Research-Engage-Action-Resource Friday 17th June 2011 Dublin Castle.

GHF 9 was launched by Ms Laverne McGuiness, National Director and HSE Board Member, Laverne welcomed all participants and speakers, and those who travelled from Germany, Latvia and the UK.  GHF9 is.. ‘organised by the HSE’s Gay Men’s Health Service and the Gay Health Network, and I would like at the outset to acknowledge the support of the Minister for Health, the Department of Health and Children and the National AIDS Strategy Committee for this event.

In 2011, despite all the work that has been done, HIV and sexual health service

delivery, education and prevention work remains as vital as ever. The World Health Organisation and the National AIDS Strategy Committee acknowledges that Men Who Have Sex with Men, continue to be a key target group for these initiatives. Today’s forum, therefore, is an important event in delivering on these priority areas, as it presents an opportunity to reflect on your work to date and to plan how this work can be progressed in the years to come. In conclusion, I want to thank you for the invitation to open today’s Forum and for your kind attention. On a personal level I am always delighted to attend a Forum such as this, as I genuinely value the work you do, while recognising that in an organisation as large as the HSE it does not always have the visibility it richly deserves”.

Various presentations covered

  • Trends in HIV among MSM in Ireland: showed testing is higher among MSM living in urban areas with one-in-four MSM testing for HIV with a GP while two-in-three had tested at a clinic.
  • Launch of the 2nd EMIS Community Report:
  • Update on the joint GHN/HSE HIV Prevention and Awareness Programme:
  • The 3rd Noel Walsh Memorial Presentation - Living with HIV: What the EMIS Research Shows: The data in an Irish context showed the largest number of responses ever, with 143 MSM identifying as living with HIV. 40% of these respondents were diagnosed since 2005; 73% of the 143 were on treatment and 83% had undetectable viral loads. Importantly, between one quarter and two thirds were affected by HIV-related stigma. More in the upcoming report by GHN and GMHS
  • The LGBT Refugee Project: by BeLonG To Youth Services, an overview of this new exciting initiative and the process involved in the assessment and consultation process.
  • Update from SWAI: an overview of the activities of the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI)
  • Update on HIV testing initiatives from The Rainbow Project NI
  • Homophobia and MSM Research Findings: in Real Lives 28% experienced verbal abuse within the previous year rising to 34% in the EMIS study. For physical attacks, within the previous 12 months, it was 7% in Real Lives and 4% of the 2,595 MSM respondents in EMIS. Further details will be forthcoming in the EMIS Ireland reports.
  • Stand Up! by : an overview of the 2011 Stand Up! LGBT Awareness Week campaign in schools and youth organisations. The new short film associated with the campaign was also shown at the forum and at that time there was over half a million views of the film on You Tube.

Overall GHF9 was a very successful event. The organiser would like to thank all the participants and presenters, Laverne McGuiness for launching the day, the Minister for Health, the Social Inclusion Department DOHC and NASC Education and Prevention Sub-Committee for their support.

GHF 8: 2010 Communication-Action-Partnership Friday 18th June 2010, Dublin Castle

The Gay Men's Health Service (GMHS) HSE and our partners Gay Health Network (GHN), with the support of the DOHC and Minister Aine Brady TD., Chairperson of NASC, is pleased to announce the 8th Annual All-Ireland Gay Health Forum (GHF8) on Friday 18th June, Dublin Castle.
The advancement for LGBT people in Ireland has become more apparent in the last year especially with younger LGBT visibility on national television and development of youth dedicated services. In the meantime, in these difficult times, HIV and sexual health, service delivery and promotional work is both ongoing and demanding, and many initiatives have been implemented and indeed more are planned.

GHF 7: 2009 "Heroes" June 12th Dublin Castle

The Gay Men's Health Service (GMHS) HSE and our partners Gay Health Network (GHN) is pleased to announce the 7th Annual All-Ireland Gay Health Forum (GHF7) to be held Friday 12th June next at Dublin Castle. GHF 7 presents an opportunity for those involved in HIV, AIDS, Sexual Health and other health-related work with MSM and LGBT people, to network, share and indeed celebrate the continuation of all our efforts in advancing the health and well being in Ireland. GHF7 is free and as places are limited they will be assigned on a first register basis. It is advised to register as soon as possible. Confirmation of a place and detailed a programme will e-mailed to you from the 25th May. 

GHF 6: 2008 “On the One Road” June 26th Dublin Castle

Details for GHF 6 2008: “On the One Road” held June 26th 2008 in Dublin Castle are available from

GHF 5: 2007 “INCLUSION” Dublin Castle

The theme, INCLUSION,  highlighted the issues, for an inclusive lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, for health service providers and for policymakers and planners.  Topics covered included the HSE’s forthcoming mapping exercise and report of  LGBT health-related services in Ireland and a presentation of a similar one held in Scotland, sexual health for gay and bisexual men, invisibility of lesbian health issues, disability,  mental health, drug use and LGBT youth.  There were presentations on: Drugs Use Among LGBT Young People the Report by the BelonGTo Youth Project . The “Stamp Out Stigma” Campaign in Ireland on Challenging HIV and AIDS discrimination.  Global LGBT A presentation on the issues facing LGBT people in Uganda. Hard Facts = Hard Choices and the Use of methods to promote safer sex, among gay and bisexual men. Such as the establishment of a new website in the UK. There were workshops on Working with Deaf LGBT people (Greenbow and GMHP);  Onsite HIV, syphilis and other testing (Yorkshire MESMAC); Training on risk assessment on suicide (HSE Access Team); Training on risk assessment self-harming (HSE Access Team),

GHF4: 2006 “REAL Men” Dublin Castle.

The theme “REAL MEN” (Representation, Empowerment, Assessment and Location) highlighted the realities of the lives of gay and bisexual men on the island of Ireland.  Issues covered: recent research results, sexual health issues, hate crimes, mental health, ethnic profiles of GMHP service attendees, body image, ethnicity, HIV secondary prevention, transgender & services. Specially launched at this event were;

“Understanding Real Lives” -Findings from the All-Ireland Gay Men’s Sex Survey 2003 & 2004 (by ARK Queen’s University, GMHP, The Rainbow Project and Sigma Research).“HIV Charter”, A charter of rights for HIV positive persons (by Positive Voices)

GHF3: 2005 “20/20 Visions of Gay Health”  Dublin Castle

Launched by Sean Power TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, the theme highlighted the twenty years since the founding of Gay Health Action (GHA) -the first AIDS/HIV awareness group in Ireland- and the changes in issues relating to HIV/AIDS and sexual health for gay and bisexual men.  Presentations and workshops on topics such as; New Research Data, New STI’s! (LGV), Sexual Addiction, The LGBT Training Course for Counsellors, The Internet, (HIV) Positive Happenings, Sexual Assault.

A special presentation and workshop was held on “The Challenges in HIV” with National and International Perspectives regarding “Criminalisation, Disclosure, Notification, Normalisation.”  Issues such as; disclosure and non-disclosure of HIV status to sexual partners, legal implications, partner and statutory notification of HIV, reporting HIV, Race and Ethnicity, and what is meant by HIV normalisation.

GHF2: 2004 “Transmitting Messages” Ash Suite, Croke Park.

The theme highlighted the many aspects of sexual health promotion and service delivery, the issues facing gay and bisexual men, the service providers, including gay community groups.  Dealing with images, messages, and delivery methods in relation to sex and sexual health, the forum provided an opportunity for people involved in this area to share ideas, experiences and skills.  The programme headings; Settings, Profiles, Actions & Issues contained some suggestions from GHF1, along with presentations, roundtable discussions and small workshops.  

GHF1: 2003. “Viva La Diferencia”  Conference Centre, St Brendan’s Hospital. 

This Forum marked the tenth anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexual acts in the Republic of Ireland (June 1993). The theme provided for presentations and workshops exploring the varied profiles of gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, such as, social class, ethnicity and culture. The intervention methods both needed and practised in promoting HIV prevention and sexual health awareness with these groups.   The findings from  “Vital Statistics Ireland- findings from the all-Ireland gay sex survey 2000” (GHN/Sigma 2002) were presented for use as a framework for HIV prevention and sexual health strategies.