A lot of guys I talk to find it hard to meet other guys in York Region because we don’t have gay bars or bathhouses like more urban areas. That’s a challenge for us too because it makes it harder to find places where we can connect with guys to talk about their lives, their relationships and their health. But like a lot of gay and bi guys, websites and apps have let us bridge that gap and connect with guys from across the region.
Some guys seem surprised when they find us online. Are we really able to connect with guys when they’re looking to hook-up online? The answer to that has been a resounding yes- myself and volunteers in my program talk to dozens of guys every month about how they can enjoy a healthy, pleasurable sex life.
So what sort of questions do we get online? Here are the three things that we hear the most:
- Where do I get tested in York Region? Lots of guys have heard of the Hassle Free Clinic in Toronto, but it seems many don’t know they can get tested here in York Region. ACYR is hosting a monthly HIV testing clinic in our office! All testing is free, rapid and anonymous. Our local public health unit also provides free testing for HIV, Hepatitis C, and other sexually transmitted infections. Services are also available whether you have an OHIP card or not. You can call 1-800-361-5653 to book an appointment today.
- I hooked up with someone and we did X. What’s the possibility of HIV transmission? What’s top of mind for guys is what they’ve been up to most recently. Connecting with us is a great way for guys to better understand how HIV and other STIs might come up in their sex lives and also to find out new ways to keep themselves healthy. You may even find you’ve been doing things to stay healthy you didn’t even realize!
- I’ve heard about PrEP/undetectable viral loads/PEP… what is it? The landscape of HIV and sexual health is rapidly changing, and it can be hard to keep up. Guys often come to us wanting to know more about new HIV prevention tools and strategies. We’re always happy to discuss the newest scientific advances and provide links to up-to-date information on these topics.
Want to connect with us online? Visit http://www.acyr.org/events/ to find out when and where you can find us.
By Jack Mohr
Jack is the Men’s Health Promotion Coordinator with the AIDS Committee of York Region