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For the SSASH 2024 Knowledge Questions

Some people never develop noticeable symptoms of STIs but can still give it to sexual partners. For people who are sexually active, regular STI screening can be a good idea. You can access STI screening even if you have no symptoms of signs. As well as helping to prevent transmission of STIs to other people, screening for STIs will help ensure you get treatment for asymptomatic STIs. This is important as STIs can cause health problems if they are left for a long time without being treated. You can read more about that here: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/sexually-transmitted-infections-sti

Use of condoms during vaginal or anal intercourse is the most effective way to prevent the spread of STIs. Condons also prevent pregnancy, are cheap, portable, and easy to use.

Other barriers methods, such as use of dental dams during oral sex, may also help prevent STI transmission. You can read more about condoms here: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/condoms

Chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women, even when no symptoms are present. This causes permanent damage to the uterus and affect one in 12 women with untreated chlamydia. Although less common, chlamydia can also lead to infertility in men if left untreated.

Each state in Australia has free sexual health clinics which you can access without a medicare card. It’s a good idea to get a medicare card when you turn 15 so that you have access to a wider variety of services.

With a medicare card, you can get a sexual health check up at Headspace. Headspace centres are Australian-wide and offer face-to-face consultations, online and phone support. You can book an appointment here: https://headspace.org.au/headspace-centres/

STI testing is usually quite quick and pain free. Regular testing is essential for good sexual health. Getting an STI test with a GP or at a sexual health clinic is a good idea if you have a new partner or think you may have been exposed to an STI.

More than one in 25 young people had chlamydia in 2021. Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhoea are highest for 15–29-year-olds compared to other age groups.

The contraceptive pill is only for preventing pregnancy. The pills to take to prevent HIV are called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), which can be taken daily to prevent HIV infection. Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) can be taken within 48 hours of a risky sexual encounter and works the same as PrEP; in most places PEP is accessible at emergency departments.

You can read more about this here: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/post-exposure-prophylaxis-for-HIV-prevention

Chlamydia affects everyone. There are no gender differences in infection rates for men or women.

Once a person catches genital herpes, the virus will remain in their system. While outbreaks can be painful, particularly at first, there usually aren’t any serious health problems.

HIV and hepatitis C are blood-borne viruses. This means that needles and other equipment used for tattooing and body piercing need to be cleaned and sterilised properly to ensure that no one else’s blood is present and the ink is not contaminated or shared.

Australia has very strict guidelines that mean it is very unlikely for this to occur here. However, some people undertake body piercing or tattooing while they are travelling overseas. In countries where the guidelines are less stringent, this can pose a risk for HIV/hepatitis C or B transmission. You can read more about safe body piercing and tattooing here: https://shvic.org.au/stis-and-bbvs/tattoos-and-body-piercing

You can get your own Medicare card if you are 15 years of age or older by creating a my.gov.au account and signing up for a Medicare card.

A Medicare card allows you to access medical care in Australia. If you attend a clinic that is ‘bulk billed’ as provide your Medicare, you should not have to pay any out of pocket costs. You can read more about this here: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/young-people-and-health-services

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) can be taken daily which prevents HIV from being able to infect the person taking it. Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) can be taken within 48 hours of a risky sexual encounter and works the same as PrEP; in most places PEP is accessible at emergency departments.

You can read more about this here: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/post-exposure-prophylaxis-for-HIV-prevention

Once you turn 14, Medicare will not tell anyone else listed on your Medicare (ie. parents) details about your medical treatments. Your parents may still know that you saw a doctor, but they will not know what you saw the doctor about.

You can read more about young people’s access to medical care here: https://yla.org.au/vic/topics/health-love-and-sex/your-rights-at-the-doctor/

HIV is a blood-borne virus and is not transmitted through the air nor is it found in fluids from the nose or saliva. Blood-borne viruses, like HIV, may be transmitted if blood, semen or vaginal fluids pass from an infected person to someone else. You can read more about HIV transmission here: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/HIV-infection.aspx

HPV causes most cervical and anal cancers as well as many types of throat, vaginal and penile cancers as well. The vaccine effectively prevents cancer as well as genital warts. Most young people are vaccinated at school. You can read more about the HPV vaccine here: https://www.hpvvaccine.org.au/

These STIs can be cured using antibiotics, sometimes with a single dose. If you have symptoms or think you may have been exposed, get an STI test. Learn more about STI treatment and testing here: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/sexually-transmitted-infections-sti

When condoms (latex or polyurethane) are used correctly, they are highly effective at preventing transmission of HIV. Use of a water-based lubricant can help the condom be more effective by reducing the chance of breaking caused by friction.

You can read more about HIV prevention here; https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/hiv-and-aids

Over 70% of young people in Australia are vaccinated against HPV and hepatitis B. Other STIs like gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis are readily treated with antibiotics although no vaccines exist for these STIs. You can read more about the HPV vaccine here: https://www.health.gov.au/topics/immunisation/vaccines/human-papillomavirus-hpv-immunisation-service and the hepatitis B vaccine here: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/hepatitis-b-immunisation