The AIDS Network’s Men4Men Program provides sexual health services in partnership with Hamilton Public Health Services, specifically catering to the needs of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM)
The second Tuesday of every month from 5pm-8pm.
Available services: Rapid, anonymous HIV testing, confidential STI screening (syphilis, chlamydia and gonnorhoea), HPV vaccination (Gardasil 9 – available for men 26 years old and younger), free safer sex supplies.
(rapid, anonymous HIV testing)
(rapid, anonymous HIV testing)
The Men4Men program of The AIDS Network works to improve the lives of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. We do this through providing sexual health education and community resources, and by emphasizing personal empowerment; we recognize that guys have the right to make their own decisions about their sexual health. Men4Men was founded in 2010, and provides a number of targeted community services in the Hamilton, Halton, Haldimand, Norfolk, and Brant regions. We hope to engage our community by reaching out to guys in person and online in spaces that hold significance to our community.
As a part of our mission to promote better sexual health for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, we partner with the Public Health units in the regions we serve to provide special Sexual Health Clinics just for men. These clinics are held in traditional clinic spaces as well as in outreach spaces like gay clubs, gay campgrounds and bathhouses. At these clinics, guys can get anonymous, rapid HIV testing as well as other sexual health services where available. We do our best to ensure that Men4Men Sexual Health Clinics are discreet, respectful, judgement-free and culturally safe. We hold these clinics in places like bathhouses in the hopes that we can engage with guys in spaces where they already feel comfortable. When our clinics occur in traditional settings (such as a Public Health Sexual Health clinic space) we take steps to make the clinic more accessible to gay men, such as accepting walk-ins and opening the clinic at times that are outside their usual hours of operation and more discreet. At these clinics, the comfort of gay, bi, and other men who have sex with men is the number one priority.
Compared to other sexually active adults, men who have sex with men are at a higher risk of contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections (including HIV). This is because we are a smaller sexually active community, so we are more likely to come into contact with STIs than people who have a larger number of potential partners (this is called “high STI prevalence”). As well, condomless anal sex (unless you are on PrEP) is the riskiest kind of sex for HIV transmission, and men who have sex with men often have more anal sex than other sexually active groups.
Because of these factors, it is especially important for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men to get screened for STIs on a regular basis. Early detection of STIs leads to the best health outcomes, and prevents the further spread of STIs to your sexual partners. STIs like syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea are all cureable with antibiotics, and although there is no cure for HIV, treatment has greatly improved in the past several years leading to long, normal and healthy lives for people living with HIV. However, HIV is a condition that is much more easily managed if it is detected early and treatment is started as quickly as possible.
It is recommended that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men get screened for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea once a year, even if they do not experience any symptoms of these STIs. Men sometimes do not notice or recognize symptoms of STIs and so regular screening is highly recommended for sexually active men, especially men who have sex with men.
Modern HIV testing is much more sensitive than it has ever been, and so gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are no longer encouraged to wait until the end of the ‘window period’ (the three month period that a person may test HIV-negative even if they are in fact HIV-positive). HIV tests look for anitibodies in your blood which your body makes to fight an HIV infection, and different bodies take different ammounts of time to produce enough of these antibodies that a test would come back positive. The maximum amount of time it takes is up to three months, but with modern improvements to the tests sensitivity it can take as little as three weeks. Therefore, it is recommended that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men follow the Province of Ontario’s 3-6-3 guideline, which is to get tested for HIV:
There are different kinds of HIV tests available. At most Men4Men sexual health clinics, rapid, anonymous HIV testing is available.
In the last several years, the HPV vaccination has been promoted to and covered for women only. However, in the spring of 2016, it was announced that the HPV vaccination (Gardasil 9 which protects against the most common strains of HPV that are linked to cancer and warts) is now publicly funded in Ontario for all boys in grade 8, and for gay, bi, and other men who have sex with men who are 26 years old and younger. This change is in response to the fact that men who have sex with men are three times more likely than heterosexual men to acquire HPV, which can lead to some cancers (such as anal cancer and throat cancer). The HPV vaccination can be accessed at select Men4Men clinics, and is always available at Public Health Sexual Health clinics.