Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are on the rise in Australia. The rise is currently being attributed to increased levels of risky sexual behaviour, and primarily this is unprotected sex. This is a scary thought. This post sort of follows on from the previous posts I wrote about the AIDS is a mass murderer campaign that has been launched in Germany.
The Annual Surveillance Report for 2009 can be downloaded from here. In fact, all the Surveillance Reports from 1997 can be accessed from this site as well. If one has an interest in the subject matter, then they are clearly worthwhile reading.
The report tells us a lot of things, but some of the figures highlight that rates of chlamydia infections increased by 10% over the previous year, infectious syphilis has reached epidemic proportions amongst gay men, and there were nearly 1000 new cases of HIV. The HIV cases at almost 1000 would not seem to be a large number, but it is still way too many. These figures suggest that the message has stopped getting through or people have become a whole lot more complacent about getting HIV. Complacency kills!
The data also shows that our indigenous brothers and sisters are coming into contact with STIs in increasingly large numbers. The data also highlights that intravenous drug users and homosexual men are afflicted in increasing numbers with HIV / AIDS, syphilis, and hepatitis. The chlamydia numbers are even more alarming as the show an increased in diagnosis from 14,082 in 1999 to 58,456 in 2008.
In another survey by Marie Stopes International of Australian school students found some interesting figures, including that just under half of the students surveyed had experienced oral sex. Even more interesting was that the majority of those did not consider oral sex to be sex. Sounds like a Bill Clinton moment to me, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman!" Which is true if one does not consider oral sex to climax and a subsequent spray of seminal fluid onto a dress, sex.
In another study conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health, and Society at La Trobe University, and also of Australian school students, found that one in four Year 10 students admitted to sexual intercourse and one in two students admitted as much by the time they were in year 12. I don't think it was this many when I was in high school. But, then again we were not conducting surveys of our friends either.
What does this tell us? It tells us that there is still a need for the safe sex message. The sooner 'we' refocus that message the sooner we can begin the work of protecting those who are not infected and begin devoting more time, money, and energy to finding cures.