Internet advertising that will connect online sex seekers to the Web sites of the AIDS Committee of Toronto and the phone numbers of safe sex hotlines will be part of this year's board of health campaign to fight the spread of syphilis. The sexually transmitted disease has come back with a vengeance over the last few years. Three hundred cases were recorded last year by the public health department, compared to 195 the previous year. The campaign is particularly targeting men who have sex with other men.
"We want to be able to curtail the spread," says Jann Houston, a manager of policy and planning at T.O. public health.
Health workers aren't panicking just yet, but there is a worry that increased hooking up for casual, unprotected sex through the Internet may be contributing to the increase. The rise in the number of STD cases, says Houston, "might be related to fatigue with the safer-sex message."
The board is recommending that its findings be sent to the province and feds for their possible collaboration.