Syphilis - Get Tested

If you're a man having sex with other men in Winnipeg, you should know that right now the city is going through a syphilis outbreak.


In the last couple of decades, syphilis has been making a comeback in Canada and around the world. The good news? Nowadays it's easier than ever to get tested and treated. A simple blood test at your health care provider’s office or a walk-in clinic can diagnose syphilis. And if you test positive, syphilis is totally curable with antibiotics.


Last September, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) sounded the alarm that the number of new syphilis cases in a month had doubled from the typical two up to four. This past March, the number of new cases hit twelve. That’s a 600% increase from the norm, and the highest number of new cases in a month since the 1980s.


Can I get rid of syphilis?

Yes. Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics, although the damage syphilis does to the body in the later stages can’t be reversed. It’s more difficult to get rid of than other STIs, and the antibiotic is usually given by injection into your bum muscle.

How is WRHA Public Health involved?

Public Health keeps an eye on disease trends and outbreaks. To do this, every time someone tests positive for an STI in Winnipeg, the Public Health Act says that the result has to go to Public Health. A public health nurse gets assigned and connects with the person who tested positive. The role of the public health nurse is to a) make sure that the person was treated, and b) work with the person to make sure that their sexual partners are informed (see below).

Why should I share my results with my sex partners?

If you have syphilis, someone you had sex with may also have it. If they have it and do not get treated:

  • They could get sick

  • They could infect others

  • You could get infected again if you have sex with them

How do I tell my sex partners?

You can visit this website: Share your result… Not your STI (or download a printable version here). You can also take a look at the Sex, Etc. Communication Tool.

When you cannot tell someone you have an STI, a Public Health Nurse can do it for you. The Public Health Nurse understands that it may not be safe to share your results with someone. They will connect with the person to tell them to get tested for an STI and share information about sexual health. They will not reveal who named the person and will not give any information about you.

If you only know the screen name of your sex partner, that is ok too. Public Health Nurses can connect with people on Squirt, Grindr, Tinder, or whatever the next big thing is. Just remember that—no matter what tool they use—policies and provincial law always protect your confidentiality. Public Health will never release anything about your health to anyone, even to your partners.

In Winnipeg you can reach a Public Health Nurse at 204-250-8504.