The rate of syphilis in gay men has reached its highest level in 30 years in British Columbia, and Vancouver Coastal Health is urging regular testing.

Medical health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson says there were nearly 500 cases of infectious syphilis reported to the health authority last year.

She says that number is nearly double that which was reported a decade earlier.

Statistics show that 97 per cent of people diagnosed with syphilis are men, over 90 per cent are identified as gay or bisexual, and the largest increase is among men between the ages of 20 and 24 years old.

The agency says syphilis is also being diagnosed among men living with HIV.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control recommends that men who have sex with men are tested every three to six months and visit their doctor if they have sores, bumps, rashes, blisters or warts around the genital or anal area.