A new report from the Kirby Institute has shown Australian diagnoses of gonorrhoea have doubled and diagnoses of syphilis have tripled over the past 10 years, leading experts to call for more STI testing this summer.
The Kirby Institute at UNSW in Sydney put out the annual report this week, lead by epidemiologist Dr Skye McGregor.
“Any rise in STIs is bad news, but rising STIs against a backdrop of decreased testing, and the persistent upward trend over the past decade, is particularly concerning,” Dr McGregor explains.
Chlamydia was the most frequently notified STI in Australia in 2022. But most chlamydia cases in Australia are undiagnosed and untreated, the Kirby Institute report warns.
Gonorrhoea also jumped in 2022, with diagnoses in major cities were almost three times as high compared to 10 years ago. Nearly three quarters of diagnoses are among men.
Syphilis cases have more than tripled in the past 10 years. Though most cases remain in men, experts note a concerning increase in the number of females diagnosed.
“Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis are all easily treatable with antibiotics,” Dr McGregor said.
“Early testing, diagnosis, and treatment of STIs prevents serious long-term outcomes.
“For any sexually active person, condoms remain highly effective at preventing STIs, and regular STI testing is crucial.
“A key part of this is combating stigma around sexual health and notifying sexual partners when someone has tested positive for an STI.”
Talk to your GP about STI testing
In 2022, there were 93,777 diagnoses of chlamydia, 32,877 diagnoses of gonorrhoea and 6,036 diagnoses of infectious syphilis.
“If you are sexually active, the best thing to do is to have a chat with your GP, nurse, or health worker about the risk of STIs,” Dr McGregor said.
“They’ll recommend anything from three to 12 monthly testing, depending on risk. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are tested for using a simple urine test or a self-collected vaginal swab.
“It’s also recommended to get a blood test for syphilis and HIV at the same time.”
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