Good and bad news about our sexual health: HIV down,chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis up

ENCOURAGEMENT: This week is HIV Testing Week and the local health district is encouraging people to get tested. Photo: Shutterstock.
ENCOURAGEMENT: This week is HIV Testing Week and the local health district is encouraging people to get tested. Photo: Shutterstock.

There is good and bad news when it comes to our sexual health.

There has been a significant reduction in HIV on the Mid-North-Coast but a small increase in other sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

HIV notifications are down 22 per cent across NSW.

HIV Testing Week runs from June 1 - June 7.

Manager of HIV and Related Programs for the Mid North Coast Local Health District Jenny Heslop said this week was a good reminder to get tested for HIV.

"Men who have sex with men should get tested at least once a year and men with multiple partners up to four times per year."

Testing for HIV is relatively simple.

"There is also a Dried Blood Spot Testing kit which is private and discreet and there's no need to visit a doctor," Mr Heslop said.

"The test is delivered in the mail and results are then sent by text, email or over the phone."

Ms Heslop attributes the reduction in positive HIV tests to the $20.9 million spend by NSW Health in treatment and prevention of sexually transmissible infections (STI).

She cited the success of the recent 'Discreet' campaign by NSW Health which targeted "men who have sex with men but don't identify as gay or bisexual....they live very discreet lives, they may be married, have children".

"The campaign was about encouraging those people to come forward to specialist services.

"They need the confidence in the service to come forward, that we are worried about their health not about any judgement."

HELPING OTHERS: Jenny Heslop is the Mid North Coast Local Health District Manager of HIV and Related Programs. Photo: supplied

HELPING OTHERS: Jenny Heslop is the Mid North Coast Local Health District Manager of HIV and Related Programs. Photo: supplied

Ms Heslop said cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis continue to go up slowly.

"The increase in chlamydia is in the 20-29 age bracket," she said.

"The main risk is unprotected sex, not using condoms, lack of regular STI testing, lack of treatment so they are passing it on."

The Mid North Coast Local Health District has launched PASH (Positive, Adolescent Sexual Health Consortium) which consists of 38 Mid-North-Coast youth, education and health organisations. Activities include community education, youth engagement, research and an annual regional sexual health conference.

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