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International News

Alert in Australia as STD Infection Rates Soar

September 22, 2009

Recent Australian STD surveillance shows many young heterosexuals and men who have sex with men (MSM) are having unprotected sex, pointing to the need for education about condom use, officials say. STD data for Australia were released during the recent Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference in Brisbane.

The rate of hepatitis C infection diagnoses declined by 18 percent over the past five years to 53.2 cases per 100,000 population in 2008. Hepatitis C and hepatitis B diagnoses occurred predominantly among those reporting injection drug use.

Infectious syphilis grew from 3.1 cases per 100,000 population in 2004 to 6.8 cases in 2007, then fell slightly to 6.1 cases in 2008. Increases were mostly seen among MSM.

The chlamydia positivity rate increased among young heterosexual men from 12.4 percent in 2004 to 14.6 percent in 2008, and among young heterosexual women from 10.4 percent to 14.2 percent during the same period. Significantly higher rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis diagnoses were recorded among Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people compared with non-Indigenous people, the report stated.

"A lot of young people don't consider oral sex as sex, they think of it more as foreplay than sex, so they forget they can get [STDs]," said Jill Michaelson, national clinical advisor for Marie Stopes International.

A survey of Australian 10th- and 12th-graders found that more than three-quarters reported deep kissing; about two-thirds sexual touching; and almost half oral sex. Among the last, 28 percent had oral sex with three or more partners in the previous year, a 19 percent increase over the Australian Research Center in Sex, Health and Society's previous study in 2002.

More than one in four 10th-graders and half of 12th-graders reported having had sexual intercourse, the survey found. Almost one in 10 reported their most recent sexual encounter was with someone of the same sex.

Back to other news for September 2009

Adapted from:
Sydney Morning Herald
09.09.2009; Louise Hall

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More HIV Statistics on Australia