This sexually transmitted disease is on the rise
WHILE notifications of sexually transmitted diseases in the region remain a small percentage of the state's total, they are on the rise, according to recent figures.
And despite the mountains of education, it seems young people still aren't heeding the message of using protection.
In the Northern NSW Local Health District, syphilis notifications have stayed relatively constant, with 15 notifications in 2013, and 13 in 2017 but 11 recorded in the first six months of 2018.
However, gonorrhoea notifications have risen from 98 in 2013 to 158 in 2017 and 148 in 2018.
Chlamydia has risen from 818 notifications in 2013 to 970 in 2017.
Manager of HIV and related programs for North Coast Public Health Unit Jenny Heslop said that while these numbers remain relatively small, it is still concerning that they have doubled over the past four years.
"The NSW Government is investing more than $1.5 million in programs through the NSW STI Programs Unit to actively engage young people aged 16-29 years in sexual health," she said.
However, a recent study by the University of New South Wales showed that many young Australians are having sex without using condoms, exposing themselves to a greater risk of contracting a sexually transmissible infection.
UNSW's National Debrief Survey found that 7 per cent of people aged 15-29 who had sex partners in the past 12 months had sexual intercourse without condoms at least once in that time.
Most of these young people (69 per cent) engaged in sexual intercourse without condoms with regular partners and about a quarter (24 per cent) did not use condoms with casual partners.
Worryingly, the higher the number of sex partners, the more likely it was that they would not use condoms during sexual intercourse. Almost two thirds, or 66 per cent of young people who had five or more casual partners in the past 12 months did not use condoms.
The National Debrief Survey also found most young people were aware of the rise of STIs but only 58 per cent of young people had ever tested for STIs or HIV and 36 per cent of them had tested in the past year.
Ms Heslop said in the Local Health District, publicly funded Sexual Health Services collaborated with key statewide services to implement many of the statewide campaigns and programs locally.
"We continue to provide community awareness via social media platforms about the need for people to test regularly and practise safe sex for those who consider themselves sexually active," she said.
"We provide local training for primary health care providers to enhance access to testing and treatment for community members.
"The Sexual Health Services' operating hours have been adjusted to meet community need."