NSW Health has released a new long-term roadmap to encourage prevention, regular testing and to enable better access to timely treatment for those affected by Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs).
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the NSW Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy 2022-2026 aims to bring down STI rates across the state and help reduce their impacts.
One in six people are likely to have an STI at some point in their lives,” Dr Chant said.
“If you are sexually active, it’s important to use preventative measures such as condoms, get tested regularly, and seek treatment early so you can stay healthy and protect the wider community from infection.”
“Sexual health is an important part of health and wellbeing. If left untreated, STIs pose a significant risk to reproductive health and could lead to harmful outcomes for mother and baby, neonatal infections, cancer, and increased risk of other infections.”
While NSW remains a world leader in responding to STIs, with HIV notifications having dropped to their lowest levels on record, data shows some STI rates have increased. Rates of infectious syphilis have doubled since 2016 from 11.2 notifications per 100,000 people, to 21.2 per 100,000 people in 2021.
The strategy sets out four key focus areas to achieve ambitious targets, which include the elimination of congenital syphilis and reduction of syphilis and gonorrhoea notification rates by five per cent by 2026.
- Prevent new infections through education, health promotion and utilising new and existing methods, such as condoms, vaccines and health promotion.
- Test often, normalise testing, and promote innovative testing models such as peer-based testing and point-of-care testing.
- Treat STIs rapidly and reduce onward transmission and enhance partner notification and contact tracing; and
- Equity and access to services to reduce STI-related stigma and remove barriers affecting health seeking behaviour.
The strategy was developed in consultation with clinicians, academics, community partners, and local health services across NSW through a strong partnership which will help to effectively respond to STIs.