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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
AUSTRALIA: Rise in STDs Among Aborigines Challenges Medics on Safe-Sex Message
By Sean Parnell
October 23, 2013
The Australian (10.23.2013)

This article was recently reported by the Australian. Researchers at the Australasian Sexual Health Conference, held in Darwin, Australia, described high chlamydia incidence among young and indigenous populations. Chlamydia was Australia’s most frequently reported notifiable disease, with 82,707 diagnoses in 2012. According to Professor David Wilson of the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, most reported cases occurred among people ages 15 to 29. Although the indigenous population sample size was smaller than the nonindigenous sample, Wilson stated that chlamydia incidence among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations was four times higher than among nonnatives. Data indicated that chlamydia incidence increased by 22 percent among indigenous populations and by 41 percent among nonindigenous populations from 2009 to 2012. However, Wilson estimated that chlamydia was underdiagnosed and that approximately 5 percent of Australians between the ages of 15 and 24 had chlamydia, which increased the risk of infertility and other reproductive health issues. Although younger teenagers were less likely to be tested for chlamydia, data from Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria provinces indicated that throughout a five-year period incidence was highest among females ages 12 to 15 (13 percent), those ages 16 to 19 (12 percent), and those 20 to 24 (8 percent). Rates were highest among males ages 16 to 19. A second national study, Sexual Health and Relationships in Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (GOANNA), indicated that indigenous teenagers, especially males, were less likely to have STD testing, and males were less likely to understand STD risks. James Ward, a researcher from Baker IDI Central Australia, reported the average age of initial sexual intercourse for indigenous teens was 15, and the age group most likely to use condoms was 16- to 19-year-olds (50 percent). Since English was not indigenous people’s primary language, Baker advocated the development of educational materials tailored to their needs.