HEAT (Gay Men, MSM)
The HIV Education and Awareness Today (HEAT) program delivers HIV/STI education, awareness and prevention to the gay men/MSM community. Our HEAT Worker is active in the local community; if you’ve been to a GLBT event you’ve probably seen our HEAT booth. We work with Safeworks to provide rapid HIV testing on site at locations such as the Sheldon Chumir and the local bathhouse.
Want to know where to go for testing? Easy, our HEAT Worker can hook you up with all your options. Need to keep your condom stash stocked? Our HEAT Worker can point you toward all the free condoms you need. Is it safe to use female condoms for anal sex? Our HEAT worker has an answer for that too! Our Heat Worker would love to answer any of your questions and queries about safer sex, sexual health, HIV testing, or anything else you can think of.
Why is this work important?
- This work continues to be important as men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to represent the largest proportion of newly diagnosed or living with HIV in Canada and Alberta.
- MSM continue to be marginalized in health care settings and services leaving them disconnected from basic health care supports and information.
- Currently, there is a lack of culturally competent clinical health services targeted at responding to the unique factors that impact the health and wellness of MSM in Calgary. Examples include mental health, substance use and misuse, ageing and interpersonal violence.
What are the key needs and issues in your community and work?
- MSM require culturally competent, informed and supportive health and social service resources, practitioners and programs
- MSM require access to information on other factors that affect their lives such as ageing, living with HIV, substance use, housing and other social determinants of health
- MSM need access to knowledge on HIV and STI prevention including hepatitis C
- MSM need access to low-barrier HIV/STI testing and technologies, including community-based rapid testing and evidence-based tools such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
- There is still shaming and judgment of persons living with HIV by negative members of the community
- Isolation and “The Closet” remain significant barriers for MSM to access care and support services
Why do we do what we do in your specific communities?
- We offer non-judgmental support and information to all MSM
- We offer referral to supports and services appropriate to their needs
- We provide up to date information on HIV/STI/hepatitis C and other health concerns
- We believe MSM have the right to services and supports that meet them where they are at
I thought there was a cure now?
There is no cure for HIV. There are a number of treatment options available to help HIV positive people live longer and healthier lives. A great deal of research continues looking into a vaccine to prevent HIV, however no successful vaccine has currently been identified.
I need to go to another country and not sure if I can take my HIV medications with me?
You can travel with your medications as long as they are in their original bottles/containers and have your prescription label on the package that includes names, medication, doctor and dosage. I recommend placing meds in your carry on so they are not lost if there are delays with checked luggage.
Positive guys tell me they are “undetectable and on treatment”, what does that mean exactly?
“Undetectable” means a person is living with HIV infection and treatment (medication) is effectively controlling the virus. When virus levels are very low due to effective and consistent treatment, standardized tests are not able to detect HIV in a blood sample. “Undetectable” is an indicator that treatment is working well, there are low levels of active virus, and the individual living with HIV is therefore less likely to transmit the virus. Condom use is still encouraged and recommended as “some” risk will remain even if undetectable. More research is required and underway.
Where can I get tested?
Free, confidential and anonymous HIV/STI testing is available at:
Sheldon Chumir Health Centre, 1213 – 4th Street SW Calgary 5th floor
Monday thru Saturday, walk-in only
Sheldon Chumir Health Centre, 1213 – 4th Street SW Calgary
Mondays 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Wednesdays 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Room 1039 – main floor by security desk
Goliaths Bath House
Friday evenings 5:00 – 6:30 PM in room 100