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Addressing rising STI cases in Indigenous young people

[supplied by UQ]


Image: supplied

University of Queensland researchers have worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to make a series of videos to address stigma and misinformation about sexually transmitted diseases.

Professor James Ward, a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man and Director of UQ’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health said Indigenous young people experience significantly higher rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs) compared to non-Indigenous young people.

“Over the past 10 years STI and BBV cases have risen substantially in Indigenous communities in Australia, but testing rates have decreased,’” Professor Ward said.  

“Between 2020 and 2022 Indigenous people aged between 15 and 24 had the highest notification rates for chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

“Our aim is to raise awareness so people can make informed choices about their sexual health.”

Professor Ward leads the UQ initiative Young Deadly Free (YDF), working to increase rates of STI and BBV testing and treatment for Indigenous young people.

“We partnered with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to create the YDF videos addressing themes of gender, sexuality, young men getting tested, pornography, stigma, shame and consent – and reinforcing that STIs can affect everyone,” he said.

UQ’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health has partnered with HERO to increase the availability of condoms in Indigenous communities.

“We promote condom use to prevent STIs, HIV, unplanned pregnancies and BBVs and improve health equity in the communities where our teams are working,” Professor Ward said.

"We know our peoples’ health will only improve when our mob leads the way.

“This means ensuring communities drive the research agenda, making sure that we’re supporting our people to become the future leaders in health research, done by us, for us, with us.

“It’s also making sure that our research has direct impact, creating real change and transforming health inequities that have been here too long.”

HERO CEO David Wommelsdorff said the partnership with UQ focuses on a shared vision of ensuring sexual and reproductive healthcare is safe and accessible, with the aim to increase the uptake of condom use in rural and regional Australian communities.

“This partnership is really exciting for HERO because we believe in the transformational potential of our one-for-one donation initiative, to create a more fair and equal society, through sexual and reproductive healthcare,” Mr Wommelsdorff said.

“HERO will kick this partnership off with a donation of 11,600 condoms, with the goal to donate 30,000 condoms this year alone, which adds to the 2.36 million condoms donated globally to date.”

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