About Staying Negative

Staying Negative aims to emotionally engage, inspire and facilitate imagination in sexual health practices. The campaign profiles the real life stories of gay, bisexual and trans men who have sex with men (MSM). Men talk about all aspects of their life from coming out, relationships, sexuality and a broad range of other topics. While HIV and safe sex is an important part of all stories, it is not the exclusive focus.

Prior HIV prevention campaigns have traditionally focused on providing gay men with information that will encourage them to adopt safe sex behaviours. In reality, safe sex practices are influenced by a whole range of environmental and cultural factors. The campaign also provides an opportunity for HIV positive men to talk about their lives and discuss how their strategies to staying HIV negative were not successful. We understand that there is more than one way practice safe sex and adopt healthcare seeking behaviours, so let's be creative about it!

There are no real criteria for participants other than that they are MSM and happy to have their stories appear as part of the campaign. In addition to the personal stories, the website provides information on HIV/AIDS, sexual health, relationships and broad of the other relevant topics including domestic violence, drugs and alcohol and depression.


What is it?

Syphilis is an infection in your blood caused by bacteria called Treponema pallidum that can infect the cock, arse or throat, and can spread to different parts of the body through the blood stream. If left untreated it can cause long-term health problems and in severe cases even death.


Not everyone experiences symptoms with syphilis, and early symptoms can go unnoticed, however that doesn’t mean it is any less damaging to your system. If you do experience symptoms they will most likely follow the below pattern.

Primary syphilis:

Symptoms can take between three weeks to 3 months to develop after exposure which makes it quite hard to pin point exactly when you caught it. Symptoms start off at the sight of infection as a hard, painless sore (chancre). Since they are painless, they could be hidden inside your arse (rectum) or throat and therefore be difficult to notice. These sores will last for about four weeks before turning into a scab and disappearing. Even if left untreated, the sores will heal themselves but it will progress into secondary syphilis. Primary syphilis is highly infectious.

Secondary syphilis:

It will take between two and 4 months for secondary syphilis to appear. Symptoms include a non-bumpy rash on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, back or other parts of your body. You may also get a fever, swollen glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, general tiredness as well as muscle and joint aches. These symptoms can come and go for up to two years. Without treatment it will progress to tertiary syphilis. Secondary syphilis is highly contagious.

Tertiary syphilis:

Tertiary syphilis (latent syphilis) is not contagious however it will begin to damage the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints. These can lead to long-term health complications and even death in severe cases.


Syphilis is transmitted through direct contact with sores, through fucking without condoms, giving and receiving oral sex, or arse play, such as fisting or fingering. When there are no symptoms, the infection can be passed on through contact with infected body fluids, such as pre-cum or cum.


Thankfully syphilis is easily treated with penicillin or other antibiotics (if you’re allergic to penicillin). However, when left untreated the damage done to your internal organs cannot be undone through treatment. It‘s normal to feel generally unwell with flu-like symptoms after you have just finished treatment or when are going through treatment.

It’s a good idea to have follow-up tests at 3, 6 and 12 month periods after treatment just to be sure it’s all gone. It is possible to get re-infected with syphilis after having it and sexual contact should be avoided throughout the course of treatment. Syphilis can sometimes be quite difficult to identify which is why regular sexual health checks are so important.

If you’ve been diagnosed with syphilis, it is recommended that you contact all recent sexual partners for them to get tested and treated. You can do this anonymously through Drama Down Under website in the Let Him Know section.

Tell us your story

Tell us your story


Come and tell us your story! We would love to hear from you! If you want to find out a little more about how it all works, give Jessie a call at VAC on (03) 9865 6700, or email staying.negative@vac.org.au