Victorians are being urged to get tested for sexually transmissible infections (STIs), with new figures showing that last year saw highest number of STI notifications since records began.
This week is STI Testing Week – and it’s the perfect time for Victorians to consider their sexual health and have the conversation about STIs.
New data shows Victoria had its highest ever number of STI notifications in 2018, including a 252 per cent rise in syphilis since 2009.
For the first time since 2004, congenital syphilis has re-emerged, with four cases detected over the past two years. Tragically, two foetal deaths have also been recorded.
It’s a timely reminder that people planning or having a family should get tested to prevent passing on a possible syphilis infection. Syphilis can cause miscarriage and serious birth defects, including stillbirth.
There are many types of STIs, and most are curable with the right treatment. However, if left untreated, STIs can cause long-term damage, including infertility.
STI Testing Week aims to highlight why regular testing is so important, when and where to get tested, and how to stop the spread of disease.
It’s estimated around one in every six people will contract an STI throughout their lifetime – and most won’t even know it.
While growing STI notifications can be attributed to more testing, improved technology, global travel and a growing population, the rise is also linked to changing sexual behaviours. Social media, dating websites and apps have increased people’s opportunities of meeting more partners.
STI testing is available at a local GP, family planning clinics, community health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and specialist sexual health clinics. Tests are quick, easy and confidential.
Last financial year, the Labor Government provided $47.5 million towards dedicated sexual health funding, including $25.7 million for public sexual health clinical services.
As stated by Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos
“STIs don’t discriminate. Anyone, of any age or background can contract them. That’s why everyone needs to take the necessary precautions – and everyone needs to be tested.”
“Many STIs have no signs or symptoms – so if you’re sexually active, you should have an STI test at least once a year.”
“We are urging women and their partners to have an STI before and during pregnancy. This can stop women from passing on the syphilis infection to their babies, preventing complications including tragic stillbirths.”