Sexual health experts urge testing during rodeo season

GET CHECKED: Anyone who has unprotected sex is at risk and infection is not exclusive to any one group of people.
GET CHECKED: Anyone who has unprotected sex is at risk and infection is not exclusive to any one group of people.

Twenty new cases of sex diseases were discovered in Mount Isa in the last week of June.

That is more than double the weekly average for the region. 

Queensland Health has recorded 137 chlamydia notifications, 32 syphilis, 55 gonorrhoea in the north west during 2018. 

Sexually transmitted infections can be "silent" diseases which often don't show symptoms and can be serious if untreated – potentially leading to fertility problems, pelvic inflammatory disease and more. 

Local health experts are encouraging residents to take advantage of extended hours at the Mount Isa sexual health clinic.

The confidential clinic is now open until 7pm on Mondays and 8am- 4:30pm Tuesday- Friday.

Mount Isa’s Sexual Health Service director Arun Menon said anyone who has unprotected sex is at risk and infection is not exclusive to any one group of people.

“What is concerning is that numbers are going up gradually year to year,” Dr Menon said. 

“Not enough people are being tested, and we need to get on top of it.”

Dr Menon said STI’s are not only transmitted through conventional sex but also through oral and skin to skin contact.

"If you are sexually active you should get tested regularly,” Dr Menon said.

Two cases of a critically drug-resistant strain of gonorrhoea dubbed a "super-superbug" has been detected in Queensland, and Dr Menon said the bug is expected to travel to the north west. 

“The key message is to use condoms and get checked regularly,” Dr Menon said. 

Mount Isa sexual health nurse Mark Hanlon said with rodeo season around the corner people should remember to get tested every time they engage with a new sexual partner. 

“A check up only takes about 10 or 15 minutes. We take a brief sexual health history so we know what testing we need to do, then it is usually just a urine and blood test,” Mr Hanlon said.

“It is free and confidential. We provide treatments here and also follow ups.”

While clamydia and gonnoreah are a health concern they are easily treatable with a dose of antibiotics. 

Dr Menon said the outbreak of syphilis across northern Australia is a much greater concern. 

Six babies have died in Queensland from congenital syphilis since 2011.

“No child should die of syphilis in Australia,” Dr Menon said.