People are being urged to look after their sexual health

New data reveals a significant increase in STI notifications across Australia, with authorities now urging people to look after their sexual health and get tested regularly.

Areas including the Hunter Valley and Brimbank are two of the many regions seeing a rise in cases of chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea.

What are the numbers?

According to the Department of Health and Human Services deputy chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton, there has been a noticeable spike in STI records across the nation.

“The last decade has seen record increases in STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis across Australia,” Dr Sutton said.

“In 2017, Victoria had the highest number of STIs reported since records began in 1991.”

In the Brimbank region alone, diagnosed cases of gonorrhoea had risen by 91 per cent between 2012 and 2017, and syphilis had risen by 100 per cent.

Meanwhile, the latest Sexually Transmissible Infections Data Report revealed the Hunter Valley region in New South Wales saw gonorrhoea notifications increase from 260 in 2012 to 395 in 2017. As well as this, infectious syphilis notifications rose from 14 in 2012 to 43 in 2017 and a total of 2,938 notifications were reported in 2017.

“While this can be associated with more testing, improved testing technology and a growing population, this rise is also linked to changing sexual behaviours,” Dr Sutton said.

“In particular, social media, dating websites and apps are changing the way we meet, connect and form relationships.”

How to prevent STIs

A recent campaign launched by the Queensland Department of Health has highlighted alarming statistics addressing the education young adults have of STIs.

These included “half of young adults think pulling out can stop STIs” and “60 per cent of young adults think the pill can stop STIs”.

The campaign is proving effective as it debunks the common myths related to sexual health through social videos and outdoor posters.

People are being encouraged to get to know their sexual partners and their health, and use effective prevention methods.

These methods include:

  • Use a condom
  • Get immunised to help prevent hepatitis B and some types of HPV
  • Get regularly tested
  • Know your sexual partners and their health.