Western Australia Campaign Targets High Chlamydia Rates

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The Department of Health launched a new campaign aimed at lowering the high rates of chlamydia among young Western Australians.

The Chlamydia: Could I have it? campaign aims to address the more than three-fold increase in the rate of chlamydia notifications from 2,067 in 1998, to 7,743 in 2007.

Department of Health Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Program Manager Lisa Bastian, said chlamydia was a serious sexually transmissible infection (STI) that often went unnoticed, particularly in men.

“In this latest campaign we are aiming to get the message out to young people, if you have unprotected sex, you could have chlamydia,” Ms Bastian said.

“Unfortunately men tend not to visit a GP as often as women and statistics show they are more likely to be carrying an infection and not realise it, which means they may be unknowingly infecting other people.

“The test for chlamydia is simple and the treatment is even easier, consisting of a single dose of tablets, and we would strongly encourage men in particular to go to their GP and have the simple urine test.”

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Chlamydia is the most common STI in Western Australia and in 2007 WA recorded the second highest incidence of chlamydia in the nation behind the Northern Territory.

Around 70 per cent of people will not experience any symptoms or know they are infected with chlamydia, which means they could be transmitting the infection for months.

“If people don’t use a condom, or have many sexual partners, the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection increases significantly,” Ms Bastian said.

“If left untreated chlamydia can affect both women’s and men’s reproductive health, leading to difficulties in falling pregnant, ectopic pregnancies and pelvic inflammatory disease in women, as well as infertility in both men and women.”

A 2008 Department of Health survey of 400 sexually active 16-24 year olds showed more than half were having sex daily or weekly, and taking greater risks by regularly practicing unsafe sex.

It also showed only a third of individuals who engage in unsafe sex would go to their GP to be tested.

As part of the campaign, GPs will be sent a Partner Notification Resource to urge patients with chlamydia to encourage their partners to be tested. Chlamydia: Could I have it? condom packs will be distributed at selected night spots and through promotions on Nova 93.7.

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