When it comes to STIs and getting tested, many people avoid seeking out information. Some people don’t know how to ask for advice; some people are embarrassed or unsure where to go for advice, and others assume they don’t need to ask because they think “it would never happen” to them.
Whatever the reason, if you are sexually active then you are at risk of getting an STI, and it’s important to know how to stay safe.
What is an STI/STD?
Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs), sometimes referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that are passed on from one person to another during sexual contact. STIs are transmitted when bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal fluids and blood come into contact with a person through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex and sometimes through skin to skin genital contact.
What are some common STIs in Australia?
Chlamydia – Both males and females can have this bacterial infection without obvious symptoms, which can cause infertility if untreated.
According to the WA Department of Health, Chlamydia notifications have remained stable overall in WA, but notable increases are recorded among Aboriginal people. For the last 9-month reporting period, M Clinic reports highest positivity rates in the 45 to 54-year old age group.
Gonorrhoea – A bacterial infection otherwise known as ‘the Clap’. Gonorrhoea in men can cause swelling and pain in the testicles and in women pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause major complications, including infertility if left untreated.
The total number of gonorrhoea notifications among Western Australians in the most recent 12-month period was 16% higher in comparison to the previous 12-month period. The 25 to 39-year age group comprised most notifications (47%) – M clinic also recorded highest rates of Gonorrhoea in this age group.
Syphilis – This bacterial infection is treatable when in early stages, but progresses to a latent stage during which there are no visible symptoms, which can result in serious complications if left untreated.
According to the WA Department of Health, syphilis notifications increased significantly (53%) in WA overall, and this is most evident amongst heterosexuals. M Clinic also reports increases with highest positivity rates in the 45 to 54-year old age group.
HIV – While there is yet a cure for viral infections such as HIV, treatment is essential to relieve or eliminate symptoms.
According to the WA Department of Health, there were 26 new HIV diagnoses in the first quarter of 2018, which was 86% higher than the number of cases reported in the previous quarter. Notification rates among women have doubled in the past year.
Just get tested!
The only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested.
Keep in mind that there are window periods for many STIs: a week for chlamydia and gonorrhoea; 6 weeks for syphilis; and a minimum of 4 weeks for HIV.
If you are in WA, here are some good places to get tested.
Want more information?
You can call our confidential HIV Information Line 9am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday: (08) 9482 0044.
To make an appointment with one of our Counsellors or with our Peer Educator for information and support, you can call:
WAAC Reception 9482 0000 Monday to Friday 9am - 4.30pm or contact us here.