Public health officials are renewing their call for men who have sex with men to get tested for syphilis as 2013 figures show the number of cases has surpassed the 2012 rate, which was already the highest in decades
VANCOUVER – Syphilis rates in Vancouver are at their highest in 32 years, prompting public health officials to issue a warning to the group at greatest risk — men who have sex with men.
Medical health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson of Vancouver Coastal Health said Thursday that 561 new syphilis cases were reported in British Columbia last year, and 86 per cent of them were among gay and bisexual men.
She said syphilis rates in 2012 across the Lower Mainland were already at their highest in 30 years, and the numbers climbed further in 2013.
An awareness campaign has helped increase testing rates by 20 per cent in 2013 compared to the year before. More than 48,000 men were tested in Vancouver in 2013. A similar campaign was launched this summer to encourage more men to get tested. The campaign uses trending topics in social media to discuss the rising rates and includes posters and a webpage at www.checkhimout.ca/syphilis/