In Ontario, gay and bisexual men continue to be greatly affected by HIV and syphilis. Gay and bi guys represent the majority of people living with HIV and the majority of new syphilis cases. Toronto and Ottawa are the most affected regions in Ontario.
The goal of the “Get on it” campaign is to educate gay and bisexual men about issues relating to HIV and syphilis testing. Our aim is to provide gay and bi guys with the information they need to make an informed decision about whether or not they need to be tested for HIV and syphilis, and when to be tested.
The campaign provides information on five important factors when considering HIV and syphilis testing:
- HIV risk: unprotected anal intercourse with a partner of unknown or HIV positive status
- Early symptoms of HIV infection (Sero-conversion symptoms): include flu like symptoms and possibly body rash, and can start within one to four weeks after an HIV risk activity
- When to test (Window Period): it can take up to three months for HIV to be detected by an HIV test, but for many HIV can be identified much earlier
- HIV-STI link: having a sexually transmitted infection (STI), increases the risk of getting HIV
- Syphilis: syphilis infection is on the rise among gay and bisexual men; testing for HIV should include a test for syphilis
By expanding gay and bisexual men’s knowledge about when they should be testing for HIV and syphilis, along with increased access to testing sites, the “Get on it” campaign aims to reduce the number of gay and bi guys who have HIV and/or syphilis but don’t know it, thereby promoting access to treatment and reducing further transmissions.