A change in dating culture has been identified as the likely cause behind sexually transmitted infections on the rise (STIs) in Queensland.
Dr Wendell Rosevear, who runs a Brisbane-based medical centre that specialises in sexual health, told the ABC he “quite frequently” treated patients who had between four and 10 sexual partners a day, and those people faced significant risks if they were having unsafe sex.
Figures from Queensland Health showed 27,506 people were diagnosed with an STI in 2016, up 10 per cent from the previous year.
About 82 per cent of cases were for chlamydia, however, experts have been surprised by a large 32 per cent spike in gonorrhoea.
In 2016, 4006 Queenslanders were diagnosed with gonorrhoea, up from 3038 the previous year.
The bacterial disease can affect both sexes and has the potential to cause infertility in women and harm unborn babies.
Most cases were recorded in Brisbane’s Metro North and Metro South reporting areas.
“We’re seeing some new dynamics where people want instant sex, via the internet, so people will have multiple partners in a day,” Dr Rosevear said.
“I think people are a bit immune to the burden of having to be safe with sex and a lot of people don’t like condoms. But also there is now a sense of entitlement where people think: ‘it’s my right to have unsafe sex’.”
Dr Wendel Rosevear
Dr Rosevear told the ABC many people who contracted STIs were naive but also said some doctors were not providing adequate treatment.
“I think quite a lot of doctors aren’t aware that these epidemics exist to even test for them, screen for them or treat them,” he said.
Cairns Sexual Health Service director Darren Russell said STIs sometimes did not produce symptoms and could be dangerous if left untreated.
He said the most infections occurred in the 15-30 age bracket, with higher rates occurring in gay men who live in urban areas and Indigenous people who live in rural locations.
Dr Russell said initial testing for the diseases was usually simple, requiring urine and blood samples.
The Queensland Government last year committed more than $18 million for a sexual health strategy to combat the rate of rising STIs.
A draft strategy said the government would focus on six priorities: improving community awareness, supporting older citizens, improving education for young people, responding to specific community groups, prioritising infection prevention and providing quality care to patients.
A guide to sexual health services is available at https://www.health.qld.gov.au/clinical-practice/guidelines-procedures/sex-health/services#qld
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