Got The Clap, The Clam or The Pox? Here's how to tell
A TRIPLE threat of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis is on the march across Ipswich with more than 800 local cases of sexually transmitted and blood-borne diseases reported to the state's health bosses in the past seven months.
Chlamydia is the most virulent sexually transmitted infection in our region and the number of Ipswich residents infected with the "silent" disease could be three times higher than official data shows.
NewsRegional analysis of Queensland Health statistics shows 603 new notifications of chlamydia since January 1.
In the same period, our region recorded 87 cases of gonorrhea and 28 of syphilis.
Hepatitis C is the region's most common blood-borne virus with 70 notifications in 2017.
There were 27 hep B transmissions and six HIV notifications.
Chlamydia is known as the "silent infection" because symptoms are rare, but if left untreated it can cause chronic pain and infertility in women.
STI expert Professor Basil Donovan warned our region's young sexually active residents to get tested for chlamydia.
"We're only actually diagnosing a quarter of the number of cases of chlamydia because we are only testing about 10% of young people each year," the UNSW Kirby Institute Sexual Health Program head said.
"Kids are embarrassed to go to the doctor and often the doctors are embarrassed to ask about it."
Ipswich Sexual Health clinical nurse consultant Jamie Kuskie said the West Moreton statistics were in line with last year's data and any rise was reflected by the region's population growth.
"Chlamydia is the most common STI worldwide and in Queensland, it is a commonly reported communicable disease," Mr Kuskie said.
"As it has minimal to no signs or symptoms, many people are unaware when they are infected and there is a significant risk of passing the infection on unknowingly.
"Treatment for STIs is simple and can be provided by your local GP or sexual health clinic.
"For anyone who has an STI, it is important to inform any sexual partners you have."
Queensland Q-PrEPd HIV Prevention Trial operational manager Simon Doyle-Adams said removing the stigma associated with sexually transmitted diseases and making treatment easily accessible would reduce transmission significantly.
"Regular screening and offering new treatments and preventions is the key," Mr Doyle-Adams said.
The State Government's $62 million Queensland Sexual Health Strategy 2016-2021 aims to reduce transmission rates of STIs and blood-borne diseases.
About $5.27 million will be spent promoting safe sex across the state with $3.7 million of that allocated to regional sexual health services.
"The Queensland Government is aware of increasing numbers of sexually transmissible infections and blood-borne viruses," a Department of Health spokesman said.
The Ipswich Sexual Health Service is located on Bell St and provides free and confidential sexual health checks to all members of the West Moreton community. Details: 3817 2428.
Don't let 'stigma, fear or embarrassment' stop hepatitis testing, treatment
ISPWICH injecting drug users are at most risk of getting hepatitis C.
In the past seven months, 97 residents have been infected with hepatitis C or B.
Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne virus in our region and is often spread by injecting drug users, sharing of shaving equipment and occasionally through sex.
Antiviral medications can eliminate hep C in 12 weeks and there is a vaccine for hep B.
"In West Moreton, the number of notifications for hepatitis C are lower in 2017 than 2016 and with ongoing education and awareness about regular testing it is hoped this downward trend in notifications will continue," Ipswich Sexual Health clinical nurse consultant Jamie Kuskie said.
"Access to testing and treatment for hepatitis C has improved and the time required to treat and cure this virus has significantly reduced.
"It is important that all Queenslanders are aware of their status and have regular hepatitis C testing to protect themselves and others from this blood-borne virus."
Hepatitis Queensland CEO Michelle Kudell said early detection could save local residents from deadly liver complications.
"We cannot allow ourselves to be stymied by unwarranted stigma, fear or embarrassment," Ms Kudell said.
"Game-changing hepatitis C treatments, an effective vaccine and treatments to prevent and control hepatitis B and quick and painless diagnostic and liver health tests are already available as we work towards elimination of these viruses.
"Yet we are in the unbelievable position where many people remain undiagnosed and only a small proportion are currently accessing and receiving the treatment they need."
HOW TO TELL IF YOU HAVE
In women, if symptoms are present, they may include:
- An unusual vaginal discharge
- A burning feeling when urinating
- Pain during sex
- Bleeding or spotting between periods or bleeding after sex
- Lower abdominal pain.
In men, if symptoms are present, they may include:
- A discharge from the penis
- Discomfort when urinating
- Swollen and sore testes.
- If left untreated, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women and that can lead to chronic pain and infertility. In men, it can cause pain and swelling in one or both testicles.
- If detected early, chlamydia can be treated with a single dose of antibiotics.
- Discharge from the vagina or penis
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Swelling and pain in the testicles
- It may occur without symptoms, especially in women.
- Gonorrhea can lead to infertility in women.
- Use condoms (male and female) and dental dams to prevent gonorrhea infection.
- Sore or ulcer on the penis or vagina, anus or mouth
- A flat red skin rash on the feet, hands or the entire body.
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Hair loss
- Pain in the joints
- Flu symptoms
- If not treated, this disease can lead to severe brain and heart complications five to 20 years after contraction.
- There are three stages of syphilis. The first two stages are infectious.
- Syphilis is curable but, if left untreated, syphilis can lead to serious complications.
- A simple blood test can detect syphilis.
- Mild to severe tiredness
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Soreness in the upper right side of the stomach (under the ribs)
- Increased moodiness and depression
- Joint pain or swelling
- In Australia, hepatitis C is most often spread through the sharing of unsterile drug injecting equipment.
- New all-oral combination treatment has greatly improved health outcomes for people with hepatitis C.
- See your doctor immediately if you have any symptoms or if you think you have been put at risk of infection.
If you inject drugs, never share needles and syringes or other equipment such as tourniquets, spoons, swabs or water. Always use sterile needles and syringes. These are available free of charge from needle and syringe programs and some pharmacists. To find out where you can obtain free needles, syringes and other injecting equipment visit www.guild.org.au
Disclosure for all of these diseases
It is important to let your sexual partners know that you have a disease. Your local doctor and sexual health centre can help you to do this.