New campaign aims to stop increase of syphilis and other STIs

0
9
WA’s new health campaign is about preventing, testing, treating and talking to minimise the personal and social effects of STIs.

OUTBREAKS of infectious syphilis are happening in metropolitan, regional and remote parts of WA with notifications rising during the past five years, according to the Department of Health.

With notifications of infectious syphilis in WA 26 per cent higher in 2020 than the previous year the department said it was a timely reminder for people to be aware of and talk about sexual health.

Syphilis is usually transmitted by sexual intercourse but can occasionally be spread by blood contamination, for example by needlestick injuries or the sharing of injecting equipment and also by direct contact with open lesions.

The department advises testing for syphilis for all patients with a genital ulcer but the ulcer, which is characteristically a single indurated painless ulcer can also occur elsewhere on the body.

The Department of Health’s sexual health and blood-borne virus program manager Lisa Bastian said outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) over much of the state had placed populations at risk and prompted a more mainstream prevention campaign for the general community.

The Healthysexual campaign also promotes consent and healthy, respectful sexual relationships by encouraging all sexually active people to talk to their partners about safer sexual behaviours.

She said an outbreak that started in the Kimberley region in June 2014 had spread to the Pilbara in February 2018 and the Goldfields in January 2019.

Separate outbreaks were declared in the Perth metropolitan area in August 2020 and the South West region in October 2020.

Ms Bastian said many people would get an STI in their lifetime.

She said they often had no symptoms and if left untreated, caused serious long-term health issues.

“This campaign is one of the strategies we are using to raise awareness around syphilis and other STIs,” she said.

“The Healthysexual campaign also promotes consent and healthy, respectful sexual relationships by encouraging all sexually active people to talk to their partners about safer sexual behaviours.”

Testing for an STI is simple and the only way to be sure you do not have an infection.

A simple urine, swab or blood sample is often all that is needed.

Testing can be accessed from general practitioners in all parts of WA, sexual health clinics at Royal Perth Hospital or Fremantle Hospital, Aboriginal community-controlled health services and Sexual Health Quarters in Northbridge.

For more information visit www.healthysexual.com.au