Health professionals say wearing a condom is one of the safest ways to protect yourself from an STI.
Health professionals say wearing a condom is one of the safest ways to protect yourself from an STI.

Huge spike in STI cases prompts urgent health warning

FRISKY Sunshine Coast residents are being advised to wrap it before they tap it with a rise in sexually transmitted infections.

Gonorrhoea rates have more than doubled on the Sunshine Coast this year, with 157 people infected from January to June, Queensland Health stats reveal.

That number is up from the five-year average in the same time frame of 67.

Chlamydia cases this year (593) are close to the five-year average of 619.

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Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service public health physician Dr Mandy Seel said gonorrhoea was commonly asymptomatic, which means people can carry it and pass it on without knowing.

"Gonorrhoea is considered an important infection because it can cause significant long-term problems if not treated," Dr Seel said.

"Increased rates can be caused by a number of different factors, which include increases in testing and screening; as well as factors that can cause real increases in transmission, such as increased partner change and decreased condom use.

"These include chronic pelvic or abdominal pain and infertility. In addition, gonorrhoea is generally easy to treat with antibiotics and prevent with condom use."

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In 2019, Queensland Health launched an awareness raising campaign known as 'Stop the Rise of STIs' to encourage people to test for the infections.

"This campaign used traditional advertising media but also worked heavily through social media," she said.

"Men and women in the under 30 age group were specifically targeted, but people older than this can also be at risk of gonorrhoea and other STIs, particularly if they have had a recent partner change.

"Gonorrhoea rates were historically higher in men, but the recent trend is towards heterosexual transmission, with increasing numbers of women being shown to be positive for the disease.

"People who are concerned they may have symptoms of an STI or be at risk of an STI can discus testing with their GP."

Queensland Health also operates a free STI testing service, 13HEALTH Webtest.

Participants can download their own request form and drop a urine sample at the lab or even send a home test kit through the mail.



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