• A portable testing kit for on-the-spot syphilis testing. (AAP)
Young Indigenous Australians and gay and bisexual men are most at risk of contracting Syphilis, as Queensland now faces its worst outbreak of the sexual health condition in over 30 years, the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service warned on Wednesday.
By
NITV with AAP

9 Dec 2015 - 2:59 PM  UPDATED 9 Dec 2015 - 3:50 PM

Public health groups have also urged young people in north Queensland to get tested for Syphilis and practice safe sex, after the region recorded a growing infection rate.

The Townsville Hospital and Health Service recorded 33 cases of the sexually transmitted infection before September this year, including one that was transferred to an unborn baby from its mother.

There have been 500 new cases of syphilis in Queensland since 2010, NITV News reported in November.

“Fifty six per cent of the new cases have been in Queensland and specifically in far north Queensland,” general manager, policy innovation and service development of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, Sandy Gillies, tells NITV News in the video below.

“Age is the risk factor here and if we don’t get in and start screening that age group, the outcomes are going to be enormous.

“...It’s bad [especially] since the Medical Journal of Australia indicated four years ago that with what we [were] doing, we could have eradicated syphilis.”

The Kirby Institute at the University of NSW states that Indigenous Australians are four more times likely to be infected by the illness than non-Indigenous Australians.

Those in remote locations are 300 times more likely to contract the disease.

According to a report in the Sunday Mail, babies in north Queensland’s Indigenous communities are also at serious risk.

Growing infection rates in the region indicate a need for greater funding, engagement and awareness to combat what can be a fatal disease.

Associate Professor James Ward, from Infectious Diseases Research at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, told the Sunday Mail that syphilis cases in Aboriginal communities were down to as few as 123 in 2009.

A decision by the former Newman government to close sexual health clinics was blamed for fuelling the outbreak, which came just as medical authorities were poised to eradicate the disease in 2009.