All Posts tagged chlamydia
OK, so as promised in our previous blog from the #WorldSTICongress2015, we had our in-house gamers review the new STI game developed by WA Health Infection Protection.
Introducing Gamer 1: At 14 years old, this gamer has had 12 years gaming experience. Starting out at 2 playing Freddie Fish, he moved into Star Wars Lego games at 6, loved Mario Kart, built hundreds of architecturally designed cities in Minecraft (still a gold favourite) peppering these games with bouts of Team Fortress 2 and FIFA, until he discovered Assassins Creed and shoot-em-up games like Call of Duty.
The game has a really good concept. I like how they’ve integrated Minecraft a popular and well known video game into something that educates children about STIs and health. It’s pretty funny at first, because everyone is having sex and that’s a bit weird. I’ve never seen Minecraft people having sex before. This made me laugh but it could make some people feel uncomfortable. After a while you get used to it and then you realise that it’s actually quite serious that the more sex they have the more diseases they can get.
You feel you’re responsible for these people having sex and spreading diseases as quickly as they do. So you have to stop the spread of disease by giving them safe sex packs and treating them.
Sending them to the clinic to get tested is really good because you learn about the symptoms and the treatments that are available.
The only thing is that you can’t really tell if the person has symptoms - but they should still go to the clinic to get tested just in case they just caught something from the last person they had sex with.
The way the game could be improved would be to give the characters more personality. Perhaps a picture of them (avatar) and a description eg; Brown hair, blue eyes, likes girls, likes boys, likes both, only has sex with one person, has lots of sex, has symptoms, has no symptoms. Make it more personal. You have to take care of them so you might as well know who they are.
Introducing Gamer 2: At 12, this gamer likes to play SIMS, Minecraft, Super Mario Bros, Nintendogs, Wii Sports, Kitty Powers Match Maker. She is an app queen with an iPhone and an attitude.
It’s weird for a 12 year old to see Minecraft characters doing that with each other. We still haven’t had “The Talk” at school but my Mum has told me about all that stuff. I know it’s normal, but it’s still weird. I like the way it looks like Minecraft. The graphics were pretty good. I played for a while and treated some people at the Clinic but I got bored after a while. I didn’t really want to learn about sex and diseases so I stopped playing. I don’t think I’d play again unless the characters were more interesting. Maybe if they had pets or did other stuff.
Play Infection Protection by going to www.getthefacts.health.wa.gov.au
Download Infection Protection from www.getthefacts.health.wa.gov.au
Continued high rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among gay and other men
who have sex with men (MSM) in NSW, including those who are HIV positive, have prompted
a revision of the STI and HIV testing guidelines for NSW.
The guidelines, 2014 Sexually Transmitted Infection and HIV Testing Guidelines for
Asymptomatic Men who have Sex with Men, released this month by the Sexually
Transmissible Infections in Gay Men Action Group (STIGMA) continue to recommend annual
testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV and more frequent testing for high risk
Last published in 2010, the revised guidelines now also recommend throat testing for
chlamydia, and the use of electronic reminders for gay men and their clinicians to increase
the regularity of testing, particularly for gay men in inner-Sydney and other Australian
Developed to assist GPs and primary health practitioners with comprehensive and regular
testing of gay men, the revised guidelines also recommend conducting a behavioural risk
assessment and promoting consistent condom use amongst gay men.
Karen Price, Chair of STIGMA and Director HIV and Sexual Health, ACON, said HIV and STI
testing remained an essential component of improving health, wellbeing and efforts to end
HIV transmission amongst gay men.
“We must acknowledge the great commitment many gay men have demonstrated in looking
after their sexual health, but there is still more to do.
“The continuing high rates of STIs in the inner-Sydney area remain concerning, especially
the significant increases in gonorrhoea observed over the last five years,” Ms Price said
A large proportion of STIs are being detected in gay men without any symptoms, which
reinforces the need for regular testing. Infectious syphilis and STIs in the throat and rectum
are particularly likely to be asymptomatic.
Associate Professor David Templeton, Senior Specialist, RPA Sexual Health Service said
regular STI testing and consistent condom use are key to reducing STIs among gay men.
”Swab and urine tests can be self-collected and we have effective, often single dose,
treatments for many STIs,” A/Prof Templeton said.
The revised guidelines align with the recent statewide ‘Ending HIV’ campaign, developed by
ACON and adopted by the NSW Ministry of Health, one of the key aims of which is to
increase HIV testing among gay men.
Conjoint Associate Professor Chris Bourne, Senior Specialist, Sydney Sexual Health Centre,
said it was timely to have the updated guidelines released to support the campaign, and that
the revised guidelines will go a long way in helping to combat increased rates of STIs and
HIV amongst gay men.
“Gay men are recommended to get tested for other STIs at the same time as they are being
tested for HIV, because many throat and rectal STIs, for example, do not have symptoms,”
A/Prof Bourne said.
The revised guidelines are endorsed by the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine,
Australasian Sexual Health Alliance, Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine of the
Royal Australasian College Of Physicians and are approved as an accepted clinical resource
by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and can be downloaded at:
Chlamydia in Teens
Health experts warn that an epidemic of chlamydia may cause a wave of infertility in young Australians.1
The past decade has seen a steady rise in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Australia.2 Professor David Wilson, from the Kirby Institute estimates that rates of chlamydia have tripled over a ten-year period.3 Chlamydia is the most frequently notified infection in Australia with almost 83,000 cases diagnosed in 2012. The rise in chlamydia diagnosis is partly due to increased testing however, the Kirby Institute estimate that one in twenty young Australians have chlamydia and many don’t even know they have it.
The Burnet Institute recently reported that the group who have the highest percentage of positive test results are girls aged 12-15 years (13%) compared with females 16-19 years (12 %) and 20-24 years (8%).4 In males, the highest percentage of positive chlamydia tests were in those aged 16-19 years (15%) followed by 20-24 year olds (13%) and 12 to 15 year olds (9%).4 These figures may come as a surprise, but according to Carol El-Hayek, 12 to 15 year olds are definitely sexually active - and many of this age group are practising unsafe sex. Add to this the confounding factor that around 70% of females and 50% of males with chlamydia have no symptoms, so may pass on infection without knowing.5
For information about chlamydia symptoms, testing and treatment see What is Chlamydia?
Getting more Teens to Screen
Clearly, Australian teenagers as young as 12 years old are vulnerable to STIs, and the younger they are, the less likely they are to be tested. This age group are more likely to seek a test only after symptoms appear, or if they are identified as being at risk of unprotected sex by their GP, parent/carer or school counsellor.3
Chlamydia & Cyberspace
What’s also clear, is that young people are getting much of their health information from cyberspace. The internet plays a vital role in educating young people about STIs in a way that is familiar, non-judgemental and easily accessible. So how effective is cyberspace in reducing the rates of chlamydia in young people?
A recent study by Melissa Kang and colleagues from the University of Sydney GP Medical School, used the internet to engage sexually active young Australians aged 16-25 years in confidential, email interactions with a sexual health nurse or doctor. The goal was to educate and facilitate access to chlamydia testing services for young people. Subjects were invited to visit a specifically designed website to discuss chlamydia and the importance of testing.6
Young people were more likely to report having a chlamydia test after 6 months of email interaction with a clinician than those who were not offered such contact. The authors concluded that the internet and eTechnology may be useful in promoting chlamydia testing and healthcare seeking behaviour in young people.6
It goes without saying that cyberspace is a good place to start when designing public health messages about STIs for young people. There remain gaping research holes, sure to be filled over the next few years with studies on the extent and efficacy of internet-based education programs for young people. At this stage, and with little evidence to back up social media and internet-based programs, the most effective way to change behaviour are the still traditional methods of school-based programs, community health centres
In July 2013, The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society issued a report outlining the most effective (and ineffective) methods of delivering STI education programs.7
- Comprehensive one-on-one counselling with sexually active young people has shown to be effective in changing behaviour and reducing risky sexual practices;
- Generally, interactive internet-based programs are comparable to face-to-face counselling for increasing sexual health knowledge and improving attitudes towards practising safe sex
- Targeted outreach screening in community health settings and non-GP health services show high acceptance and participation in STI screening;
- Sexual health education via the internet and social media may improve young people’s sexual health knowledge and attitudes;
- Programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth that follow good cultural practices such as community consultation and ownership, collaborative development and engagement using multidisciplinary and interagency approaches are effective;
- Peer-led programs and youth development with at-risk young people and minority youth are effective in increasing knowledge and improving attitudes and motivations.
And what isn’t…
Programs focusing on abstinence were ineffective in reducing risk or delaying sexual behaviour. There is also indicative evidence that abstinence based programs may increase STI risk.7
There has been minimal success in increasing STI screening rates in general practice contexts, in particular for chlamydia. However, young people will respond positively to an offer from a clinician or GP for an STI test and many would prefer this to having to initiate the request.7
Take-home message for health practitioners:
- Offer confidential STI screening to young people.
- Make sure a list of sexual health clinics and youth health centres is available for young people from the age of 12 years.
- Avoid talk of abstinence. Young people are sexually active and need support not judgement.
- Keep up to speed on culturally appropriate, locally relevant, interactive sexual health education sites, apps and community programs.
In the meantime, there are plenty of informative, locally relevant websites, campaigns and Twitter feeds:
Red Aware YEAH is a youth driven health promotion organisation aimed at empowering youth to become involved in improving sexual health awareness in their local communities.
Get The Facts is a youth focused website about sexual health (Department of Health, WA).
Could I Have It? is a comprehensive site all about Chlamydia with information for young people and travellers. It even features online Chlamydia self-assessment and testing (WA based).
Better to Know is a website for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with information on STIs, how and where to test for STIs and how to tell a partner that you have an STI.
1. Brewster, K. Chlamydia epidemic may cause a rise in infertility among young Australians - experts warn. ABC News 24 October, 2013
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics ABS June 2012
3. Hagan, K. Chlamydia rates rise for younger girls. The Age, 24 October 2013
4. Somerville, C. Burnet Institute News, 24 October 2013
5. Better Health Channel: Chlamydia
6. Kang M, Rochford, A, Skinner R. et al. Facilitating chlamydia testing among young people: a randomised controlled trial in cyberspace. Sex Trans Infect. 2012;88:568-573.
7. Brown G, Croy S, Johnston K, Pitts, M., & Lewis, V. (2013). Rapid Review: Reducing sexually transmissible infections in young people. Melbourne: Australian Institute for Primary Care & Ageing (AIPCA) and Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society (ARCSHS), La Trobe University.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can infect the prostate, urethra and testes in men and the cervix, uterus and pelvis in women. Chlamydia is spread through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex and is often asymptomatic; most people are unaware that they have the infection and that they need treatment. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause serious long-term complications:
- Inflammation of the upper genital tract and infertility in men;
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancies, chronic pelvic pain and infertility in women;
- Increases the possibility of contracting other infections such as HIV.1
One in 20 young Australians have chlamydia - most don’t even know
It’s estimated that rates of chlamydia have tripled over a ten-year period. Chlamydia is the most frequently notified infection in Australia with almost 83,000 cases diagnosed in 2012.2
Girls aged 12-15 years have the highest percentage of positive chlamydia test results followed by 16-19 year olds and 20-24 year olds.3
Young men aged 16-19 years old have the highest percentage of positive chlamydia test results in Australia followed by 20-24 year olds and 12-15 year olds.3
Around 70% of females and 50% of males with chlamydia have no symptoms, so may pass on infection without knowing.4
If symptoms are present they may include:
- Abnormal or increased vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods or after sex
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Pelvic pain like period pain
- Discomfort or pain when urinating
- Discomfort or pain when urinating
- Discharge from the penis
- Redness around the urethra
Testing is simple, what does it involve?
There is no single test to detect all sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Chlamydia, however, is an easily diagnosed and curable STI. Tests are painless and usually involve a simple urine test in men or women. Alternatively, a cotton swab may be used to test for chlamydia from the vagina, cervix, anus or penis. The specimen is then sent to a laboratory for testing.
What’s the Treatment?
Treatment for chlamydia is usually straightforward and involves a course of antibiotics.
Find out More
Young sexually active people are particularly vulnerable to STIs including chlamydia. Find out more about What’s working and What Isn’t when it comes to reducing the rates of Chlamydia in young Australians.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics ABS June 2012
2. Hagan, K. Chlamydia rates rise for younger girls. The Age, 24 October 2013
3. Somerville, C. Burnet Institute News, 24 October 2013
4. Better Health Channel: Chlamydia