PLAY IT SAFE: STIs running rife on the Coffs Coast
COFFS Harbour was recently recognised as the best town in Australia for singles, so it's not surprising to see a rise in sexually transmissible infections across the region.
Chlamydia is the most widely spread STI, with 637 cases identified last year on the Mid North Coast in comparison with 426 in 2013.
The disease is more common among females, with roughly three out of five cases from the first half of last year being female.
The age group mainly at risk was 20 to 29 year olds, with unprotected sex and a lack of regular testing a factor in the rise of cases as people may spread chlamydia unknowingly.
Gonorrhoea rates have almost tripled on the Mid North Coast in the past five years, going from 27 detections in 2013 to 74 in 2018.
Many of these cases were attributed to men who have sex with men.
Mid North Coast Health District's HIV and related programs manager Jenny Heslop said they are working hard to spread the message on safe sex.
"The Mid North Coast Local Health District is committed to the prevention of sexually transmissible infections and increasing STI testing and treatment,” Ms Heslop said.
"We urge people who are sexually active with new partners or participate in casual sexual relationships to be tested regularly and practice safe sex.
"We are working with the community to increase awareness of the risk of transmission and to encourage those who are sexually active to be tested regularly.
"There has been a small increase in syphilis notifications reported since 2014. While these numbers remain low, regular testing is still important.”
The NSW Government is investing $1,527,000 in programs through the NSW STI Programs Unit to actively engage young people aged 16-29 years in sexual health.
Investments include funding to support the implementation of the NSW HIV and STI strategies, including STI and HIV prevention, education and support services specifically targeting gay and bi-sexual men.