The BCCDC Foundation is proud to partner with the Vancouver Foundation who have provided funding for an ongoing project titled, “Preventing syphilis among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM): a qualitative study” which focuses on exploring the individual, community, and structural drivers of health, particularly as it pertains to syphilis infection and re-infection in this population.

It has been globally recognized that gbMSM have a disproportionate burden of syphilis cases but few interventions have yet been found to be effective at stemming the epidemic. The group of researchers at the BC Centre for Disease Control want to understand the underlying trends and systemic determinants of health to be able to develop comprehensive and holistic programs and ultimately, improve the health of gbMSM. They are using a participatory action research model to explore factors contributing to local barriers to health care access, among other social determinants of health.

The preliminary qualitative data was presented at the Gay Men’s Health Summit in November 2017 in Vancouver, with a draft manuscript currently in progress now that the qualitative interviews are complete. Next steps for the coming year include development and completion of a quantitative questionnaire, and development of a database of overarching themes emerging from the interviews.

According to Drs Grennan and Grace,

The results from our qualitative interviews demonstrate some tensions between what individuals know about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the risk of acquiring these infections, and how their sexual behaviour plays out. We look forward to delving deeper into these issues with our forthcoming quantitative questionnaire.

The long term goal is to turn research outcomes, from both phases of the study, into actions. It is planned that this will be in the form of development of tools to help medical practitioners guide who would benefit from intervention and in what circumstances it would be appropriate. As well as pinpointing systemic areas that need to be addressed in order to optimize service delivery and access to care for gbMSM individuals, to help inform advocacy to shift public perception and evidence for policy change. The work for this project is taking place over three years.

As Canada’s largest community foundation, Vancouver Foundation is dedicated to creating healthy, vibrant and livable communities across BC.