Pilbara STI decline bucks State trend
■ Rates of sexually transmitted diseases and blood-borne viruses in the Pilbara are dropping every year, in a trend the Department of Health hopes will continue with the release of its updated health strategies for the maladies.
In the department’s last quarterly report about STI occurrence, the number of cases of chlamydia had dropped 22 per cent and gonorrhoea 37 per cent over a one-year period.
A DoH spokeswoman said the decreasing rates were the result of a sustained public health response over 10 years.
“This includes having a regional sexual team in the Pilbara that work on increasing awareness and education about STIs and BBVs in priority populations,” she said.
“(It also includes) timely … surveillance reports to monitor and respond to notification trends, and increased STI and BBV testing by general practitioners and Aboriginal communitycontrolled health services.”
The State has had dedicated regional sexual health teams in the Pilbara, Kimberley, Goldfields and Mid West regions since 2004.
With the new strategy, the spokeswoman said the kind of things people in the Pilbara would experience included an increased access to needle and syringe programs, point-of-care testing in Aboriginal health services to reduce the time between diagnosis and treatment for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, and accessible and enhanced teacher training to support school-based sexual health education in schools.
However, for the rest of WA there has been an increase overall in STIs and BBVs.
From 2010 to 2014, the annual number of HIV notifications in WA increased from 113 to 138.
The spokeswoman said the number of cases appeared to have stabilised in 2015 to date.
The department has a few top tips for minimising the risk of contracting a STI or BBV.
The spokeswoman said people with regular or casual sexual partners should always use condoms and lubricant, and get tested regularly for STIs/BBVs — at least every year and if changing partners.