The most common way HIV is transmitted is through unprotected sex - not using a condom.
The most common way HIV is transmitted is through unprotected sex - not using a condom. Sunshine Coast Daily

Huge spike in numbers of STI cases

RATES of chlamydia and gonorrhoea are steadily rising in Bundaberg, despite efforts to educate the community about safe sex.

Between January and September 2009, there were seven cases of gonorrhoea reported in Bundaberg, compared to 15 in the same period this year.

There has also been a significant jump in the number of reported cases of chlamydia, with a 28% increase from 155 cases in January to September 2009, to 199 cases in the same period this year.

The rises are in line with national figures showing reported cases of the sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are at an all-time high.

The figures, released by the University of NSW Kirby Institute, show there was a 17% increase in the number of people with chlamydia in 2010 compared to the previous year.

The situation is even more dramatic in relation to gonorrhoea, where the figures jumped by 25% from 7993 cases in 2009 to 10,015 in 2010.

Q Clinic Wide Bay Sexual Health nurse unit manager Fiona Stack said while Queensland Health was committed to reducing the spread of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), many people did not even know they were infected.

"Unfortunately some STIs, such as chlamydia, have few or no symptoms, so an infected person may not even be aware that they are infected, but could be infecting their partners," Ms Stack said.

"Untreated, chlamydia can lead to a range of complications, such as both men and women becoming infertile, and women experiencing serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and ectopic (tubal) pregnancies.

"So it is important that young people use condoms and practise safe sex every time."

In 2010, the chlamydia positivity rate was highest among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women at 20.7%, followed by young heterosexual men and women at 16.3% and 15.6%, respectively.

The lowest rates of chlamydia were found among female sex workers, with just 5.6% testing positive.

Ms Stack said Queensland Health monitored rates of infection, ran awareness and information programs and provided clinics where people could seek help, advice and access free confidential screening and treatment.

"Arranging a sexual health check through a GP or local sexual health clinic may be the only way to be sure that a person is not infected, and is especially important when entering a new relationship," Ms Stack said.

The nurse said Queensland Health provided many programs to help educate people about STIs.

Ms Stack said there was a dedicated sexual health education website, I Stay Safe, which provided advice about STIs, HIV and hepatitis.


Where to get help

  • THE Q Clinic is a free sexual health clinic at 312 Bourbong St, which operates four days a week from Monday to Thursday.
  • Services provided include sexual health testing and treatments, pap screening and pregnancy testing and referral.
  • To make an appointment or for more information, call 4150 2754.