Reducing STI rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people

Source: Health Times,  Charlotte Mitchell, 7 December 2020

More focus on increasing the rates of sexual health testing, and less focus on behaviour change, is the key to addressing high numbers of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

Dr Salenna Elliott, Senior Research Fellow and Public Health Medical Registrar at SAHMRI, told HealthTimes “what [our research] is showing us is that the behaviours in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are actually not very different from other groups of young people.”

“A real concern is in remote areas. Once you have a high prevalence of STIs there, it means that whenever a person then has unprotected sex, they are much more likely to be exposed to an STI because those background levels are so much higher.”

Dr Elliot said that in some communities, it is also more difficult to access sexual health care services than in urban settings.

“The more effort we can put into improving STI testing rates, we can actually bring down that background prevalence in those communities where young people are at a much higher risk of exposure when they have unprotected sex.”

Dr Elliott coordinated the second GOANNA survey, an Australia-wide sexual health survey of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Led by SAHMRI researchers in partnership with Aboriginal community organizations, the survey included more than 1,300 participants aged 16-29 from urban, regional and remote parts of mainland Australia…

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