Gay Men’s Health
Revitalizing HIV Prevention For Gay Men
We are now entering into our third year of our project called “Revitalizing HIV Prevention for Gay Men”. This project’s objectives have been:
- To develop safer sex material that educates gay men about risk management and HIV prevention.
- To revitalize the discussion of HIV/HepC/STIs prevention and safer sex among gay and bisexual men by engaging them in discussions around the determinants of health and how they impact on their lives.
- To increase testing for HIV/HepC/STIs by gay/bisexual men.
- To reduce the number of HIV/HepC/STIs infections among gay/bisexual men.
Our objectives for this project were influenced by a National HIV Prevention Strategy for Gay Men that was developed by a National Reference Group (NRG). The NRG conducted focus groups with gay men across the country and the consistent message was that prevention programs for gay men must acknowledge the complexities of gay men’s lives and must go beyond simple messages about condom use.
With the NRG strategy in mind it is our hope that this project will encourage gay/bisexual men to become more proactive in discussing issues of risk management around safer sex thereby resulting in fewer HIV infections in this population group. Therefore gay/bisexual men will be more informed about safer sex, risk management and how issues of substance abuse, self-esteem, etc. impact on their health and will result in their increased ability to negotiate safer sex. We hope to see an increase in testing for HIV and reduce infection rates over long term.
HIV Information Websites:
CATIE is Canada’s source for up-to-date, unbiased information about HIV and hepatitis C. We connect people living with HIV or hepatitis C, at-risk communities, healthcare providers and community organizations with the knowledge, resources and expertise to reduce transmission and improve quality of life. For more details, please visit www.catie.ca or call 1-800-263-1638.
What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
What is Syphilis?
Syphilis is more than just a strange sounding word. It is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) caused by bacteria.
How is it spread?
Syphilis is spread by direct contact with sores, rashes or body fluids (semen, blood, vaginal fluid) during vaginal, anal or oral sex.
Is it Dangerous?
It can be dangerous if not caught in the early stages. If left untreated, it can cause damage to many different body systems, and even cause death. Having Syphilis can make you more likely to be infected with other STIs, including HIV. Syphilis in pregnant women can lead to miscarriage, serious birth defects, as well as death of the newborn.
Is Syphilis here in Saskatoon?
Yes. There were 14 confirmed cases of Syphilis here in Saskatoon Health Region in 2009; this number has more than doubled since 2007. These infections occurred in both males and females between the ages of 20-45 years.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Syphilis?
The signs of Syphilis are not always obvious, and you may not notice them. If left untreated, Syphilis can progress through different stages.
Primary (1st) Stage
Several weeks to 3 months after infection, a painless sore called a chancre (“shanker”) may occur at the site where the bacteria entered your body, usually the genitals, anus or mouth. The chancre(s) will go away, but you are still infected.
Secondary (2nd) Stage
About 6 weeks after the sore(s) appear you may feel like you have the flu, along with a rash on the hands, feet, or trunk of the body. Patchy hair loss might also occur. These symptoms will eventually go away, but you are still infected.
Latent (silent) Stage
Around 1 year after getting infected there may still be no visible signs. You may not be able to pass the infection on to someone else, but are still infected. Some people may remain in this stage for many years or move to the third stage.
Tertiary (3rd) Stage
Within 10- 30 years, about one third of infected people may have serious complications which can include: damage to the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints or even death.
Is there a cure?
If Syphilis is caught in the early stages, it can be treated with medicine. The treatment is free, and will be arranged by a doctor or a Public Health Nurse.
How do I get tested?
You need to get a blood test to be tested for Syphilis. The best time is 8 weeks after having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. The test can be done at your family doctor, (or any walk-in medical clinic). The Sexual Health Clinic, located at 101-310 Idylwyld Drive North, also offers testing on a drop in basis. Testing can be done Monday & Friday from 1-4pm, and Wednesday & Thursday from 3-6pm.
How can I prevent myself from getting Syphilis?
Not having sex is the only way to prevent Syphilis. If you choose to have sexual contact, lower your risk by knowing and limiting your number of sexual partners. Make sure that both you and your partners do not have Syphilis by getting tested regularly. Use latex condoms each and every time you have sex.
For additional information, you may visit the website: www.sexualityandu.ca, or contact the Sexual Health Program at (306) 655-4642.
Published by the Sexual Health Program/Public Health Services.