HEALTH authorities are warning sexually active young Queenslanders to practice safer sex after new data revealed only 54 percent of young people use condoms during sex.
Queensland Health’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the only thing young people should be bringing home from schoolies is great memories, not sexually transmissible infections (STIs).
“We know that STIs are on the rise in Queensland with more than 20,000 cases of chlamydia and almost 5,000 cases of gonorrhoea diagnosed last year,” Dr Young said.
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“Queensland is also seeing rapid increases in cases of syphilis in young men and women of reproductive age and men who have sex with men.
“All these STIs can have serious consequences such as infertility should they go untreated, for both men and women.
“Untreated STIs in pregnant women can also be passed on to the unborn baby with devastating consequences such as stillbirth.
“Prevention is always better than cure. The best way to stay protected is by using condoms and water-based lubricant during sex, but our latest data shows almost half of sexually active young Queenslanders aren’t using them every time.
“Of those young people who said they didn’t use condoms every time, 30 per cent said they hardly used them or had only ever used them once.
Dr Young said the data also showed alcohol and drug use compromised the likelihood of safe sex.
“Often there are no symptoms, so you or your partner may have an STI, not realise it and pass it on,” she said.
“We know that many young people are having sex, we just want them to do it safely.”
Dr Young also urged Queenslanders to get tested after the celebrations had finished so that they can get treatment if necessary before they pass on the infection to someone else, or before it leads to something more serious.
“Our research shows only 34 per cent of young Queenslanders have ever been tested for an STI, and what’s even more concerning is that only 14 per cent consider themselves at risk,” she said.
“STI testing is recommended annually or with each new partner and should be part of your normal health routine if you’re sexually active, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not.
“If you think you may have been exposed to an STI, or you have symptoms such as discharge, burning or stinging while urinating or unusual abdominal or testicular pain, you should see a doctor without delay.
“It’s easy to get tested and treated if necessary. Find out how at qld.gov.au/stoptherise.”
*Queensland Health Market Research found 60 per cent of young Queenslanders (15-29 years) surveyed believed the contraceptive pill was a form of protection from STIs, and 52 per cent believed the same of the withdrawal method.