Man2Man launch campaign to raise awareness of syphilis outbreak

Getting tested is free, quick and easy through STI home testing kits or at your nearest clinic.

A shirtless man under pink lighting bows his head

Man2Man, the national HIV Prevention and Sexual Health Awareness programme targeting gay, bi and men who have sex with men (MSM), have launched a new online campaign to highlight the recent rise of syphilis in Ireland.

Here’s a list of facts on syphilis as shared by Man2Man in the new campaign:

  • Syphilis is an STI that can be cured.
  • You get syphilis from condomless anal sex, oral sex (including rimming) and vaginal sex or sharing sex toys.
  • Symptoms include a genital ulcer, which is often painless, swollen glands, and a rash which is non-itchy and can involve the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
  • Many people with syphilis don’t notice anything when they have picked up the infection and will only be diagnosed when they have a syphilis blood test.
  • If you’ve had syphilis before, you can get it again.
  • If you have or have had symptoms, it is important to get tested and treated.
  • Once treated, protect yourself and new partners by using a condom for all anal, oral and vaginal sex.

To find a sexual health service near you, if you are outside of Dublin, visit Free STI home testing kits are also available to order at for anyone with an address in Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Cork or Kerry.

Man2Man campaign poster. Text reads: Syphilis is on the rise. A shirtless man stands next to the text.

Earlier this week, The HSPC (Health Protection Surveillance Centre) declared a national outbreak of syphilis, further stating that a large number of cases may remain undiagnosed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Diagnosed cases are said to be far exceeding numbers seen pre-pandemic, with 242 cases reported in the first quarter of 2021. 91% of the cases were diagnosed in males and 9% in females. 79% of the sexually transmitted infections reported were in Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow.

In response to the national syphilis outbreak, the MPOWER Programme at HIV Ireland have teamed up with public health and the HSE to offer free syphilis testing to gay and bisexual men at their pop-up clinic at the HIV Ireland office in Dublin City Centre.

They shared on social media, “Syphilis is on the rise among gay and bi men in Ireland. It’s easy to get but also easy to cure. Some people get symptoms, but a lot don’t at all. The only way to know for sure is to get tested.”

Adam Shanley, Programme Manager at MPOWER shared, “Syphilis has been on the rise for quite a while. In 2019, cases of syphilis had risen by 54% on 2018 numbers, even at that point it was identified as an area for urgent action. While there was a dip in reported cases in 2020, that was most likely due to a reduction in access to testing rather than a reduction in transmission, and that’s backed up by the fact that the increase we’re seeing now far exceeds cases recorded in 2019. It’s for that reason a syphilis outbreak has been declared.”

Getting tested is free, quick and easy and you can book your 10-minute slot by clicking here. These tests will take place every Thursday in July between 6-9pm in Dublin City Centre. Results are available in one week and treatment is free if you need it.

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