Young Deadly Syphilis Free Campaign

About the campaign

Young, deadly, syphilis free is a multi-strategy STI awareness-raising campaign, developed in response to the ongoing syphilis outbreak affecting regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in:

  • northern and western Queensland, including the Torres Strait Islands
  • the Northern Territory
  • the Kimberley region of Western Australia
  • the Far North and Western regions of South Australia.

The campaign has been developed by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), in consultation with the Multijurisdictional Syphilis Outbreak Group of the Communicable Diseases Network Australia.  ANTHYM – Aboriginal Nations Torres Strait Islander HIV Youth Mob assisted in campaign development.

The campaign is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health.

The campaign’s focus is on encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 15 to 34 to test for syphilis and other STIs to assist in bring the outbreak under control. The aim of the campaign is that 30,000 young people in communities affected by the syphilis outbreak test for STIs by June 2018.

The challenges

The syphilis outbreak continues to evolve.

The Multijurisdictional Syphilis Outbreak Group  (MJSO) produces communiques which provide updates on epidemiological data for the syphilis outbreak, and the Group’s activities. Its latest February 2018 communique shows that since the syphilis outbreak was declared in January 2011 over 1850 cases of infectious syphilis have been reported among Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people in affected regions of Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. These cases are predominantly among young people aged 15-29 years, and equally among women and men.

There have now been 6 deaths due to congenital syphilis – with two babies dying this year. We urgently need strong and concerted cross-jurisdictional actions to increase STI and BBV testing rates for young people in regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to stop new infections, and ensure early diagnosis and treatment.