Think You’re Not at Risk of an STI? Think again...

STIs are a serious health issue but they often go undiagnosed and untreated. Why?
Well, the stigma of the how they come about (through sexual contact) makes people sweep this part of their health under the rug. They don’t want to talk about it, explain it or sometimes, admit to it. Also, some STIs don’t present symptoms straight away, if at all, so they can wreak silent havoc in our bodies without us even knowing.

Complications are as serious as they come. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that ‘STIs have a direct impact on sexual and reproductive health through stigmatization, infertility, cancers and pregnancy complications and can increase the risk of HIV.’

The rate of STIs in Australia, especially tratable ones like Gonorrhoea & Chlamydia, is not something to be laughed off, and testing is your best defence

Let’s take a closer look at STIs in Australia

And Why You Should Get Tested

Australia was ranked in the top twenty most sexually active nations in the world (Durex Global Sex Survey 2005, p.20) and we love that Aussie’s are getting sexy. What we don’t love is our reluctance to protect and maintain good sexual health.

On a side note, in a different study conducted by Spreadsheets App. we have also been ranked No 1 for sexual stamina, congrats team!

Your sexual health is impacted by your sexual partner(s), and their sexual partners too…

The 2014/2013 Great Sex Census, conducted by RedHotPie3, asked respondents how many people they’d had sex with in their lifetime, the highest percentage said 1-5. Very closely followed by more than 21 people…So you know those 1-5 partners? It’s likely one or more of them may be in that second percentage of people who’ve had 21+ partners…

See what we’re getting at here? If you’ve slept with even one person whose sexual history you don’t know, that’s a whole lot more unknowns than you think…

Why Get Tested for STIs? - Stigma Health

Chlamydia is having a moment.. and we want to STOP it.

The Kirby Institute’s 2022 Annual Surveillance Report reveals that in 2021, chlamydia was the most frequently notified STI with 86,916 notifications. WOAH. Combine this with the staggering fact that 1/25 people aged 15-29 had chlamydia in 2021, but less that 1/3 received a diagnoses, and we’ve got a lot of chlamydia on our hands! These undiagnosed cases spread through friendship groups, social circles, communities, towns… imagine a web lighting up across Australia. It’s not cool, but it is PREVENTABLE. Some health concerns are really difficult to pinpoint or treat. STIs are pretty standard & testing is our best way to stay protected. 

Untreated Chlamydia can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which apart from being very unpleasant can have serious consequences including infertility. It’s estimated that untreated Chlamydia increases the risk of PID from 6.5 to 25 fold. That STI test you didn’t get could affect whether or not you can have children, and just one episode of PID increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy sevenfold. FYI PID can also happen to men and can also cause infertility.

Clinical guidelines recommend annual testing (at least) for young people. See, we know our stuff. Testing works. Get sexy, enjoy it, but get tested regularly… your health is important, and so is the health of your sexual partners. 

Now onto Gonorrhoea… (have we convinced you yet to get tested, yet?)

The Kirby Report revealed 26,577 gonorrhoea notifications in Australia in 2021, with over 2/3 presenting in males. And get this, from 2012-2019 there was a 127% increase in gonorrhoea notifications. Eek.

It may seem like STIs are nowhere, but trust us, they are everywhere.

We hate to say it, but Syphilis is back…

This STI used to be the stuff of history and tales from ye olde times where it took out some famous folk including Al Capone, Oscar Wilde, Leo Tolstoy, Beethoven (allegedly) and Abraham Lincoln (allegedly).

Surprising absolutely everyone, syphilis is back and doing its worst. In 2021 (yes, you read that right) The Kirby Report says Australia had 5,570 infectious syphilis notifications (infections of less than two years’ duration). 81% of those notifications were among males and notification rates were highest among people aged 25 – 29. 

So, it’s still around, can still kill you and seriously debilitate you prior to that. If you don’t get tested, you can’t get treated… so get that test! We are begging you.. and will keep nagging you till you do. Case closed.

But wait, there’s more! These STIs have friends…

What about Hepatitis B & Hepatitis C? An estimated 200,000 people were living in Australia in 2015 with a chronic Hepatitis B infection and there were over 6.5K new diagnoses in 2015, but what’s worse is an estimated 419 deaths in 2015 were attributable to chronic Hepatitis B infection. In 2012, the National Liver Cancer Prevention Policy stated the rate of deaths from liver cancer was increasing faster than any other form of cancer in Australia and they cited untreated Hepatitis B as a major contributing factor.

In 2015 an estimated 227,306 people were living with a chronic Hepatitis C infection in Australia, with over 10K new diagnoses and 818 deaths attributable to chronic Hepatitis C.

The HIV situation: The number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in Australia in 2021 is 552. That’s more than 1 per day. An estimated 29,460 people were living with HIV in Australia by the end of 2021. These days living with HIV is possible, but prevention is better. We recommend PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) to high-risk communities and to EVERYONE – we recommend getting tested regularly to protect against HIV acquisition.  

STIs do not discriminate. They affect people from all walks of life, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, how much money you earn, or your relationship status. Proactive testing is your best bet to protect your health. We’re on a mission to eradicate STIs in Australia. We are empowering YOU to take control of your sexual health. Maybe it will never be ‘cool’ to get an STI test, but it sure is smart.

Go Get Tested. Be Sure.

If you suspect you may have contracted an STI it’s extremely important you do not engage in any sexual activity, regardless of your relationship status, until you know that you’re safe and not at risk of infecting anyone else. Please get tested immediately. 

Thanks To Our Sources:

1. “Durex Global Sex Survey 2005” p.20 – In Response To “Frequency of Sex”, p.8 – In Response To “Have You Ever Had Any Of The Following, Sexually Transmitted Infection”, p.7 – In Response to “Unprotected Sex” 2. A study conducted by Spreadsheets app. 3. “The Great Australian Sex Census” conducted by “RedHotPie” 4. Australian Government Department of Health. Third National Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy, 2014-2017. Commonwealth of Australia 2014 5. Better Health Victoria 6. Australian Chlamydia Control Effectiveness Pilot (ACCEPt) In an article by 7. Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data 8. The Kirby Institute. HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia Annual Surveillance Report 2022. The Kirby Institute, The University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052 9. National Liver Cancer Prevention Policy 2012 10. Ministry of Health NSW, NSW STI Strategy 2016-2020 via NSW Health. Communicable Diseases. Health Protection Report, NSW – 2014 Year in Review, September 2015.