By Rowan Forster
Sexually transmitted infections have surged in Cardinia, with gonorrhoea diagnoses jumping by 375 per cent in five years.
New data released by the Department of Health revealed Victoria now has the highest number of STIs since records began in 1991.
It has prompted calls for locals to be mindful of their sexual activity, use of protection and to consider getting tested.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has attributed the spike to a changing dating dynamic.
“In particular, social media, dating websites and apps are changing the way we meet, connect and form relationships,” he said.
“While this can be associated with more testing, improved testing technology and a growing population, this rise is also linked to changing sexual behaviours.”
While cases of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis have been on the rise across the shire, HIV has been on a steady decline.
Across the state, 57 cases of HIV were reported between April and June this year – compared to 92 for the same period in 2017.
It comes during the second annual STI Testing Week, which takes place until 15 September.
The occasion aims to raise awareness of the spread of infections, and send the message that most are curable and treatable – if addressed early.
The department estimates one in every six people will acquire an STI – and many will not even know it.
Doctor Bruce Bolam encouraged those who are sexually active to undertake a test and help stop the spread of infections.
“If you’re having sex with a new partner or don’t always use a condom, it’s recommended that you get an STI test,” he said.
“STIs often have no signs or symptoms, and testing will ensure you and your partner don’t have to live with potentially serious, long-term consequences from a treatable infection.
“This week we are highlighting the importance of regular STI testing, where and how to get treatment, and how to take a proactive approach to sexual health to help prevent STIs.
“It is important to let your sexual partner or partners know if you have an STI so that they too can be treated. “
STI testing is available from your local doctor, family planning clinics, community health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and specialist sexual health clinics across the shire.
For more information visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/STI