November 5, 2013
The WA AIDS Council is urging 18 to 24 year olds to undergo more sexual health check-ups as a ‘sex-friends’ culture and contraction of Chlamydia are both prevalent in Western Australia.
Council CEO Andrew Burry said a range of sexually transmitted infections including Gonorrhoea and Syphilis had become more prevalent in WA but Chlamydia was most common.
“Because Chlamydia is already fairly prevalent in the community, the overall chances of having sex with somebody who already has it and may pass it on is much higher, but also younger people who are unmarried or in a stable, monogamous relationship have a high chance,” Mr Burry said.
“The more sexual partners you have, the more chances you have of contracting an STI.”
Despite these concerns, WA Department of Health statistics issued in the August 2013 Notifiable Sexually Transmissible Infections and Blood-borne Viruses in Western Australia report show the level of contraction of Chlamydia has decreased by 19 per cent since last year.
The report said the number of Chlamydia notifications between January to June this year, 3020 cases, was relatively stable compared to the previous 12 month period.
Mr Burry said “sex friends” was not a new concept, but instead a recycled one from previous eras which was being more openly discussed among young people in the 21st century.
He said more sexual health care awareness was needed; not only for 18 to 24 year olds, but for all sexually active people, to ensure safer sex and less STI contractions.
Curtin University WA Centre for Health Promotion Research lecturer Jude Comfort said better education on sexual health care was essential for preventing the contraction of STIs.
“I think for many young people it’s a time of testing the boundaries and they may know some of the things around sexual health,” Dr Comfort said.
Mr Burry said a way to prevent the contraction of sexual health diseases and providing better promotion of sexual health care was to introduce talking about sex at a younger age.
“What we really need is conversation amongst young people, where [talking about sex] is considered normal, but if we don’t start off talking about sex in a natural way with kids at an appropriate age, we haven’t got much chance of getting the conversation happening,” he said.
“If people have a regular sexual health test, we won’t be diagnosing people and treating people [for STIs], and we would reduce the number of STIs in the community and therefore reduce the risk of anybody getting them.”
Photos: Alexia Parenzee