Date Published: 29 May 2009

Campaign Targets Sexually Transmitted Infections

Health News from Australia.

A national campaign launched today aims to reduce the rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Australians, especially young people and Indigenous people.

The Australian Government has committed $9.8 million to the National STI Prevention Program to address a worrying rise in chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, and syphilis infections.

* The incidence of chlamydia ? which affects women and men ? has risen steadily over the past years. In 2008 there were 58,530 cases of chlamydia reported in Australia.
* The rate of cases of infectious syphilis increased from 3.1 per 100,000 people in 2004 to 6.6 per 100,000 in 2007.
* The rate of new HIV diagnoses increased for four years in a row to the end of 2007. In 2007 there were 983 new notifications of HIV infection.

The campaign theme is:

?STIs are spreading fast ? always use a condom?. It also includes information about the transmission, symptoms, treatment and prevention of STIs, and encourages young people who have had unprotected sex to see a doctor about getting tested.

Research for the campaign found that 16 to 29 year old Australians are not well informed about the benefits of condom use. Heterosexuals mainly use condoms to prevent pregnancy, while men who have sex with men are becoming complacent about the risk of HIV.

As well as the Australian research, the campaign is based on international research and consultation with the states and territories. Guidance was also taken from an expert reference group including the chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Blood Borne Viruses and STIs, Professor Michael Kidd.

An important aim of the campaign is to encourage people to think and talk about STIs. People should not be made to feel ashamed if they have an STI, as this can prevent them seeking help and treatment.

Early detection and treatment is important. If left untreated, STIs can have serious, lasting health implications.

The media campaign includes advertising on radio, magazines, outdoor billboards and the Internet. It will be supported by other activities including use of the internet, and an Indigenous partnership program.



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