Sex health of youth stressed

THE push is on for Coffs Coast youth to talk about sex.

As part of National Youth Week the HIV and Related Programs (HARP) team of North Coast Population Health Division is highlighting the importance of talking about Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs) and their impact on young people's health and well-being.

North Coast area manager of the HARP team, Jenny Heslop, said the time was overdue to focus on the pitfalls of unprotected sex.

“The rising rate of certain STIs amongst youth has prompted health workers to prioritise and promote sexual health clinics for young people who have difficulty accessing GPs,” Ms Heslop said.

“If asked to name the nation's most common notifiable STI's, it's unlikely many people would nominate chlamydia, yet the number of young people diagnosed with the disease on the North Coast has increased markedly in recent years.

“In the five year period to 1 April this year, reported rates of chlamydia on the North Coast have grown at an average of 9% per annum and are higher than the NSW state average.

“The 2011 data (to March 18) show 333 cases reported on the North Coast, which is 40% above the five-year average for the same period. Typically, about 75% of reported cases are aged between 15 and 24 years and about 63% of reported cases are female, with the latter possibly due to greater uptake of testing by females.

“Chlamydia is one of the so-called ‘silent diseases' that rarely cause symptoms and often goes undetected. If left untreated, the disease can lead to serious complications including chronic infections and infertility.

“The good news is that testing for chlamydia is an easy and quick process that requires only a urine test. Any GP can provide this service. Treatment is straightforward too, it usually involves taking only two tablets.”

If you think you may be at risk, please consult a GP, or your local sexual health clinic.

Young people can also call the NSW Sexual Health Info line on 1800 451 624 and get free advice or can visit the HARP website: http://www. ncahs.nsw.gov.au/sexual-health/



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