The Middlesex-London Health Unit is investigating two cases of individuals with syphilis, one of whom also has an HIV infection, who have engaged in risky sexual behavior. Both individuals have been participating in activities that could lead to the spread of infections. Of the two, one has been meeting anonymous partners through the Craigslist website, while the other is an individual who participates in local swingers events. Because of the nature of these encounters, the Health Unit has been unable to notify any individuals who may have been exposed to potential infections.

syphilis
Image/CDC

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria that is passed to a male or female partner during any sexual intercourse, such as vaginal, oral or anal sex, and even through deep kissing. Like syphilis, HIV is a virus that can also be spread through any sexual intercourse with someone who is infected. It can also be spread by other means, such as sharing needles or other drug equipment.

“We’ve recently become aware of these cases and that there may be a number of people who are engaging in the kind of high-risk activities that carry a heightened risk for the transmission of STIs like syphilis and HIV,” says Shaya Dhinsa, Sexual Health Manager with the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “Because these infections may not be accompanied by symptoms, it is possible those who participate in these activities may already be infected, and therefore could be unknowingly spreading an infection to others. It’s important they see their family physician, or come to the Health Unit, for testing.”

When it comes to STIs, prevention is key, which is why the Health Unit encourages the regular use of condoms. However, it’s critical to get STI treatment promptly, and because there’s often no definitive way to know if you are infected, it is very important to get tested regularly. Anyone who has participated in swingers events, or had anonymous sexual encounters with people they’ve met on social media sites like Craigslist, Tinder or Grindr, should make arrangements to be tested for STIs, including syphilis and HIV.

Testing is available through healthcare providers and family physicians, or at The Clinic, the MLHU’s sexual health clinic located at 50 King Street. The Clinic’s hours are Monday and Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Testing and treatment are free of charge at these anonymous drop-in clinics, and no appointment or health card is required.

Visit myLABBox.com for easy, convenient and fast screening solutions for prevalent STDs, all in the privacy of your own home.

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