Public Awareness Campaign Aims to Prevent Syphilis

13 February 2015

IQALUIT, Nunavut (February 12, 2015) – A syphilis outbreak that began in Iqaluit in 2012 continues to spread across Nunavut. In response, the Department of Health has tailored its new public awareness campaign around the prevention of syphilis. The new campaign will be launched on February 12, National Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Day.

“We are concerned because the number of people becoming infected with syphilis continues to rise,” said Dr. Geraldine Osborne, acting Chief Medical Officer of Health for Nunavut. “We consulted with Nunavummiut and they told us that it’s easy to ignore syphilis if you don’t know what it is and the long-term health consequences. Nunavummiut have also told us they want to know why they should wear condoms and why they should get tested.”

The Department of Health has therefore enhanced its public health messaging to show examples of syphilis symptoms and describe possible outcomes. Early symptoms can include a painless sore on the genitals or a rash, although many people have no symptoms. Untreated syphilis can lead to blindness, heart damage, and even death. The new syphilis public awareness campaign includes posters, radio and television ads, and tweets throughout Nunavut.

Free condoms are available at all health centres, and a variety of business and recreational locations throughout Nunavut. Syphilis testing is available at all health centres, and at Public Health in Iqaluit.

For more information about sexual health, sexually transmitted infections, and safer sex, please visit your local health centre or go to  www.irespectmyself.ca.

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Media Contact:
Ron Wassink
A/Manager Communication and Public Relations
Department of Health
867-975-5710 rwassink@gov.nu.ca