No one is immune from sexually transmitted infections and yet, for many migrant communities in Australia, discussing sexual health and safety is still sometimes considered taboo. Looking after your sexual health is as important as any other aspect of your health. From the SBS Settlement Guide, here are some tips for staying safe.
When it comes to protecting yourself and your sexual partner, here are some facts you need to know about staying safe:
What are the main sexually transmitted infections?
STIs include chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhoea, genital warts, genital herpes, thrush as well as HIV and hepatitis. Healthdirect advises that sexually transmitted diseases can be passed on during vaginal sex, anal sex and oral sex, as well as through genital and skin-to-skin contact with an infected partner.
What are the common symptoms of STIs?
Many sexually transmitted infections do not necessarily show symptoms. For example, the most common type of STI in Australia is chlamydia, which mostly affects young people, yet three-quarters of chlamydia cases remain undiagnosed as people don’t often show any symptoms. It’s easily treated however, with a single dose of antibiotics.
Therefore it's important to visit your doctor regularly for sexual health check-ups - even if you feel nervous. There's no need to be - they are health care professionals and that is what they are there to help with.
STIs also affect older Australians
Just because you are no longer of child-bearing age does not mean you are immune to STIs. The last Australian Study of Health and Relationships shows people in their 60s are having regular sex and chlamydia cases in this group has risen by 190 per cent in the last decade, according to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. So it's vital that people of all ages make efforts to stay safe.
How do I know if I have an STI?
There is no way of knowing unless you get tested. If you think you may have a sexually transmitted infection, you need to visit your GP, your local family planning clinic or sexual health centre.
You don’t even need a Medicare card to visit a sexual health centre for a test or sexual health check-up.
How do I avoid contracting an STI?
Using a condom when you have sex can massively reduce the risk of an STI. Sexual health professionals recommend condoms should be used every single time you have sex, including vaginal, anal or oral sex.
For more information on sexually transmitted infections you can visit Healthdirect.
Telephone and on-site translation services can be accessed via the Australian Government’s Translation and Interpreting Service.
The 24/7 immediate interpreting hotline is 131 450. The clinic you visit can book an on-site interpreter to attend an appointment with you if needed.