With a recent rise in syphilis cases around the country, Burnett Foundation Aotearoa (formerly New Zealand AIDS Foundation) are urging men who have sex with men (MSM) to test for syphilis and HIV as part of their regular systems of testing.
Burnett Foundation Aotearoa Chief Executive, Joe Rich says that many people are not experiencing symptoms so the best way to find out if you’ve contracted syphilis is to get a blood test.
“The majority of new syphilis cases we have seen are in Auckland and Waikato, but we are seeing them in other areas too,” says Mr. Rich.
The best way to get tested for syphilis is getting a blood test via your GP, sexual health clinic or doctor.
“If left untreated, syphilis can be a serious illness. You can also acquire syphilis more than once, so it is important to test regularly, according to your sexual health needs, even if you’ve had it before.”
MSM continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV in Aotearoa. Of the 135 new HIV notifications in Aotearoa in 2022, 80 were gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.
“Early diagnosis and access to treatment leads to better health outcomes and helps prevent further transmission,” says Mr. Rich.
Burnett Foundation Aotearoa provides free condoms, in-clinic and self-HIV tests, as well as subsidised online PrEP appointments for communities at risk of HIV.
Living with HIV is a manageable condition for most Kiwis in 2023. Burnett Foundation Aotearoa, along with other organisations in the sector provide a range of support services and information. Anyone can visit our website or get in touch with us to discuss support options available.
“We encourage men who have sex with men and people who have sex with them to visit our website and work out the best testing frequency and options for them,” says Mr. Rich.