New sexual health campaign encourages testing for STIs

Western Australians are being encouraged to get regular sexual health tests as the rates of some sexually transmitted infections continue to rise.

The government’s new Healthysexual campaign is all about preventing, testing, treating and talking to minimise the personal and social impact of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The campaign features several posters including one featuring popular Tik Tokcontent creator Ramon Israel, who was on the cover of OUTinPerth back in September 2015.

With outbreaks of infectious syphilis occurring in metropolitan, regional and remote parts of the state and notifications rising over the past five years, the campaign is a timely reminder to be aware of and talk about sexual health. In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in WA were 26% higher than the previous year.

While the levels of most sexually transmitted infections were dropping, in the most recent Quarterly STI and BBV report for Western Australia covering the October to December 2020 period. The report also noted that for the first time in five years in the Perth metropolitan area, the number of notifications categorised as heterosexual was higher than those categorised as MSM in third and fourth quarters of 2020.

The new campaign features several different posters depicting a wide variety of people.

The Department of Health’s Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program Manager, Lisa Bastian said outbreaks of STIs over much of the State had placed populations at risk and prompted a more mainstream prevention campaign for the general community.

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.

Bastian said many people would get an STI in their lifetime. 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 don’t 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. Gay men, and men who sex with men, can access testing services at the M-Clinic.

For more information visit the Healthysexual website.

OIP Staff

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