Let’s Treat Syphilis: Regional and remote communities

Let's Treat Syphilis poster

Regional and remote community members are often more at risk of contracting Syphilis. Here’s how the Let’s Treat Syphilis campaign is fighting back.

Regional and remote community members can be more at risk of contracting Syphilis. Here’s how the Let’s Treat Syphilis campaign is fighting back.

One of the main challenges in providing medical care in rural and remote areas is the shortage of healthcare professionals, particularly doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals.

Another factor that can limit access to medical care in rural and remote areas is the social and cultural context in which healthcare is delivered.

Confidentiality can be a barrier in smaller communities for people accessing medical care, and this can make it difficult for patients to disclose sensitive information, particularly if it relates to their sexuality or gender identity and may see some people leaving their local area to access care or not seeking care at all. 

This can make it difficult for patients to disclose sensitive information, particularly if it relates to their sexuality or gender identity.

For example, the LGBTQIA+Sistergirl and Brotherboy communities may be less visible in rural and remote areas and people may be reluctant to identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Sistergirl and  and Brotherboy. 

This can lead to a lack of appropriate medical care, particularly for those who are struggling with issues related to their sexuality or gender identity.

Difficult conversations

It can be hard to chat with your mates and people close to you about sexual health.

However, for those living in regional communitiesy, there are places where you can talk about your sexual health and get a sexual health test. These include:

  • Sexual health clinics in a bigger regional/remote centres like Mackay, Townsville, Cairns or Mount Isa
  • Your GP
  • A Community Health Centre
  • An Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

Let’s Treat Syphilis created a user-friendly state-wide testing directory which includes some regional and remote testing locations  https://letstreatsyphilis.info/testing-directory/

If you have any concerns about confidentiality, then you can speak about this with your health provider. Remember, the Australian Medical Association code of ethics requires clinicians to maintain patientconfidentiality.  

If you are sexually active, you should test every three months – or at least annually.

Working with regional Queensland communities 

Queensland Council for LGBTI Health (QC) and Queensland Positive People (QPP) worked together to conduct state-wide consultations with First Nations communities, Trans, Gender Diverse and Non-Binary communities, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities, as well as consultations with clinical groups and clinics.

This included a face-to-face consultation in Toowoomba in September 2022, where regional Gay, Bi, and men who have sex with men (MSM), came together to talk to QC and QPP.

This regional consultation included an online invitation for regional Queenslanders from across the state to join.

This collaborative consultation process contributed to the campaign’s regional posters visual style and campaign messaging, including the brainstorming of ideas about how to best disperse campaign messaging within these regions.

How can I make a difference – Testing and Telling partners is easy 

Remember, the good news is, syphilis is curable so include regular testing for syphilis as a part of your overall health check-ups, and look after your own sexual health, as well as the health of your community.

No matter where you live, if you test positive for syphilis, or any other STI (sexually transmitted infection) it’s important you tell your sexual partners.

This help prevent the ongoing transmission of STIs, and also prevents the STI bouncing back to you.

Let’s Treat Syphilis has also developed tips on how you can easily inform your partners.  Check it out here https://letstreatsyphilis.info/talking-to-partners/ 

Ways you can tell your sexual partners include; 

  • Telling your partner face-to-face. This can include a phone chat, text message or even a message on the hook-up app where you first connected.
  • Your doctor may be able to arrange a Contact Tracer (a special public health worker) to inform them for you (you won’t be identified in this process).
  • Online Anonymous Notification – you can still let them know for free via an anonymous SMS or email.

To learn more about syphilis symptoms, prevention, treatment and testing, visit the Let’s Treat Syphilis website or join the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/letstreatsyphilis/ for the latest updates as well. 

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


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