Getting Candid About STIs

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It is the kind of topic that is at the back of everyone’s minds, and one we often avoid talking about.

One in six Australians will get a Sexually Transmissible Infection (STI) in their lifetime. It’s time to have an open and honest conversation about sexual health, breaking down stigmas, and promoting safer practices and regular sexual health check-ups.

Firstly, let’s clear the air about STIs. They don’t discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender, race, or relationship status. They’re equal opportunists, and anyone who’s sexually active can get an STI. That said, the LGBTIQA+ community, like any other, has its unique considerations and challenges. One common misconception is that only certain STIs affect gay men. False! That’s a myth. STIs like HIV, syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and Human papillomavirus (HPV) can impact anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. The key to avoiding them is knowledge and prevention.

Knowledge Is Power

In recent years, Australia has seen a surge in STI cases, with young people aged 34 and under being the most vulnerable.

“The number of new cases of some STIs is continuing to rise, particularly in young people aged between 15 and 34 years,” says Professor Paul Kelly, Chief Medical Officer, Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care.

“Surveillance reporting shows cases of notifiable STIs have significantly increased since 2012 for chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. Any rise is concerning because the health consequences of STIs can be severe. But the good thing is that STIs are preventable, easily treatable if detected early, and in most cases, curable.”

Knowing how STIs are transmitted, their symptoms, and prevention methods is key.

For instance, did you know that many STIs have no symptoms? You could have an STI and not know it, which could have consequences for your health later. Some STIs like HPV, herpes and syphilis can also be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, for instance, via kissing or oral sex. It’s eye-opening information that underscores the importance of regular testing, always using protection, and open communication.

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