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Brian Hansen, one of our staffers here at Calgary Sexual Health Centre wrote this blog below for HIV Community Link- read the original publication here.

As our Gay Men’s Health Promotion Specialist, Brian is developing a program that seeks to find ways to impact young gay men with an effective HIV prevention strategy.

Gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM) are increasingly connecting online with their peers, sexual partners, and to seek out sexual health information. Year over year results from Canada’s Sex Now survey tell us that a majority of men (particularly those <30) are relying on the internet to satisfy some of their sex and sexual health needs. In 2011, more than 80% of young MSM used the internet to find a sexual partner, and 99% went online to look at sexy images.[1] Meanwhile, 75% of young MSM used the internet for sexual health info.[2]

The rise of geo-location apps, like Grindr and Scruff, are playing a significant role in some men’s sexual lives; more than a third of young MSM report using their cell phone to seek out sex.[3]  Likewise, two thirds report using Squirt – a popular online hookup site – as do 85% of MSM over 30 years of age.[4]  94% of young MSM are on Facebook and 97% are on YouTube. It’s hard to imagine similar proportions of young MSM walking through the doors (and past the condom kits!) of the bars, bathhouses, and agencies, where much of our energy is focused. We need to look at new health promotion strategies to reach this demographic.

Online sexual health promotion is a new frontier, and cell phone based social apps are newer still. New Canadian research being led by doctors David Brennan (University of Toronto) and Nathan Lachowsky (BC Centre for Excellence) – the Cruising Counts Survey – promises to shine some light on effective practices for service providers who want to increase their online efficacy. In the meantime, there is much to gain from exploring new, local, and complimentary initiatives that integrate technology into our sexual health promotion approaches.


To find out more about Brian’s work, please contact him at