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Is it time for an STI checkup?

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22 March 2022

Is it time for an STI check-up?

The Goanna Survey (2020) found only half of the young Aboriginal people aged 16-19 who were surveyed had ever been tested for STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections).

Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of STIs – they’re really common. In fact, around 1 in 6 people will catch an STI in their lifetime, and people under 30 are at the highest risk.

Condoms are the best way to prevent STIs, but they’re not 100% effective. There are also some STIs that condoms are less effective at preventing, such as herpes, HPV and syphilis, which are spread through skin-to-skin contact. That’s why regular STI check ups are an important part of staying healthy.

Many STIs don’t even have symptoms, so you could have one and not even know. If you do have symptoms down there, it’s even more important to get tested. If left untreated STIs can cause long term harm.

The good news is the most common STIs are easy to test for and easy to treat! Many can be cured completely (although remember you can catch them more than once), and for others there are good treatments available.

Young people who are sexually active should have an STI check-up every 6-12 months, but it’s also a good idea to have one if you’ve had unprotected sex, if you have a new partner, or if your sexual partner has any symptoms.

It can sometimes be tricky or embarrassing to ask for an STI check-up, so here are some helpful things to know:

  • You can ask to see a male or female health worker
  • Ask for a general health check when you make your appointment – you don’t have to tell the reception staff you want to have an STI check-up
  • Clinics must observe strict confidentiality – they can’t tell anyone about your visit
  • You can take a friend or family member if you don’t want to go alone

If you think you might be due, ask about STI screening at your local Aboriginal Health Service.

Find your local Aboriginal Health Service here.