Source: National News, © 4CA Cairns – 12 July 2018
Erasing a syphilis epidemic sweeping indigenous communities will not only require the distribution of rapid test kits but also ending the shame associated with the disease, a leading sexual health physician says.
The federal government will distribute on Monday, as part of an $8.8 million plan to tackle the outbreak, more than 60,000 rapid test kits across Townsville, Cairns and Darwin.
Cairns Sexual Health Service physician Dr Darren Russell, who is also an associate professor at James Cook University, says the kits were “long overdue” but only part of the solution.
Since 2011, more than 1000 cases had been recorded in north Queensland including 11 babies with congenital syphilis of which six have died.
“We’ve had an epidemic in Queensland … and that has spread across to the Northern Territory, Western Australia and more recently South Australia,” he said.