Australia’s shocking sex statistics
RATES of some sexually transmitted infections have nearly doubled in four years, with concerns that dating apps are spurring the massive rise among heterosexuals in urban areas.
The infection can leave women infertile or cause a miscarriage or stillbirth if they do fall pregnant.
According to the 2018 Australian STI surveillance report, rates of gonorrhoea also continue to increase, with a particular rise in heterosexuals in urban areas.
Gonorrhoea accounted for 28,292 cases in 2017 (21,010 males, 7282 females) - that's nearly double the figure in 2013 of 14,863 (10457 males, 4406 females).
All but one state has seen a massive rise in cases of gonorrhoea in the last five years.
NSW led with 9219 cases up from 4233; Victoria had 7345 cases compared to 3030; in Queensland cases rose to 5065 from 2728; WA was also up to 3339 from 1949; SA had 1272 cases compared to 807.
On the lower end the ACT had 250 cases up from 114 and Tasmania recorded 117 cases instead of 69.
The NT was the only state to see a slight drop from 1955 cases in 2013 to 1757 in 2017.
Experts have also been shocked by the spread of syphilis in Australia.
There were 4380 cases in 2017 (males 3733, females 647) up from 1767 (males 1618, females 149).
Cases more than doubled in Victoria to 1356 from 640; NSW followed with 1116 up from 614; cases more than tripled in Queensland to 1083 from 336; the numbers were also alarming in the NT where there were 322 cases up from 23; WA saw 320 cases compared to 83 and SA158 up from 41.
ACT - There were 33 cases in the ACT up from 10. Tasmania was the only state to see a drop to 10 from 21.
Gonorrhoea and infectious syphilis in Australia are diagnosed primarily in men who have sex with men in urban settings, and in young heterosexual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas, although the number of new diagnoses of gonorrhoea among women in urban settings has also been increasing steadily.
Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, chlamydia and gonorrhoea rates were three and seven times higher than in the non-Indigenous population and the gaps were greater in regional and remote areas.
Dr Nicholas Medland, a specialist in sexually transmissible infections, at the Australasian Society of HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine says the figures are alarming.
"The trend of bacterial sexually transmitted diseases is very much a global phenomenon.
"There has certainly been a significant and alarming rise particularly in syphilis and gonorrhoea in Australia in the last five years," he says.
He said the number of new cases of syphilis diagnosed in women in an urban setting was "shocking".
He urged people to do regular testing as both are treatable illnesses. Once treated they cannot be passed on.
"We don't know what the cause of this is but we do know what the solution is.
"Some of these STI's may be transmitted by oral sex so condom use does reduce the risk but a second is to make sure that you and your partner are getting tested regularly," he said.
Assoc/Prof Anna McNulty, Director of the Sydney Sexual Health Centre said they are seeing more patients every year.
"It is correct that STI rates are going up - but so is the number of people coming in to be tested."
Prof McNulty couldn't say whether the increase in patients was because of more testing or recklessness.
"As a local health district, we would hope that this increase in testing is the result of increased awareness of health concerns as well as the effectiveness of ongoing education and promotional campaigns which encourage testing and treatment," she said.
According to a new World Health Organisation report there were more than 376 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis and syphilis registered around the world in 2016 - the latest year for which data is available.
That is basically the same number as WHO reported in its previous study, based on data from 2012.
A WHO expert on sexually transmitted infections, Teodora Wi, separately told journalists there were concerns that condom use may be declining as people have lost their fear of contracting HIV in step with the emergence of available and effective antiviral treatments.
People are "more complacent about protection," she said, adding that this was dangerous at a time when "sex is becoming more accessible (through things like) dating apps".
- with wires