Common STI's in Australia

Discover and understand the most common STIs affecting Australians

Reviewed By: Dr Prasanthi Purusothaman 1 min read
Common STI's in Australia

What are STI's?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are increasingly becoming more common in Australia. According to the Department of Health, 1 in 6 Australians have had an STI in their lifetime. Among the recently reported STIs, 54% of the affected individuals are males. 

STI is also known as STD or sexually transmitted diseases. It is a term used for infections spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner. 

STI transmission happens during oral, vaginal or anal sex. Some common STIs may also spread via direct skin-to-skin contact with the infected area. This includes kissing, rubbing, petting and foreplay. STIs can also be passed on from mum to child during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding.

There are many ways to prevent STDs. Other than safe sex, prevention measures include regular STI checks, vaccinations, and medications. 

If infected, a person may not always be aware that they have STI. This is because some of the most common sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea do not always produce symptoms. Also, some people affected with STIs present with mild or non-specific symptoms. 

While not all STIs can be cured entirely, most can be controlled and managed with appropriate treatment. STIs, when left untreated, may lead to more severe complications beyond the infection itself. Therefore, if you suspect you may have an STI or if you've engaged in unprotected sex, it is crucial to have yourself checked by a doctor immediately.

8 common sexually transmitted infections

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most common STD reported in Australia, affecting about 97,000 men and women yearly. The risk of contracting chlamydia is highest among young Australians aged 15-29.

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is an STI affecting 68 in every 100,000 Australians, with the rates higher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations and highest in remote areas. Recent studies also suggest the incidence of gonorrhoea in Australia is increasing among gay and bisexual men and female sex workers. 

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is one of the STIs spread through skin-to-skin contact, affecting about three-quarters of sexually active Australian adults. Women have a higher likelihood of being infected with genital herpes than men. 

Hepatitis B and C

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver due to a lot of factors, including Sexually transmitted infections. Nearly 1% of Australians live with chronic hepatitis B and C infection.

HIV infection and AIDS

HIV is a virus that, if left untreated, may lead to AIDs, an incurable disease that severely damages the immune system. About 29,100 Australians have HIV, with the prevalence highest among gay and bisexual men.

Syphilis

Cases of syphilis, a bacterial STI, are increasing rapidly due to an ongoing outbreak in some parts of Australia. The rising numbers affect mainly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-34 and men who have sex with men.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an STI that individuals may acquire within a few years of becoming sexually active. It is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in Australia and can affect both men and women and its estimated up to 80% of Australian’s will be affected by the virus at some point.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Among the most common infections affecting Australian women which isn’t a STI but associated with sexual intercourse is bacterial vaginosis. Also known as BV or vaginitis, the condition occurs when there is bacterial overgrowth inside the vagina that can cause a malodorous fishy smell. 

Diseases and conditions that may result from STIs

STIs left undetected or not treated can lead to severe consequences for your overall health and well-being. 

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease is a complication of untreated gonorrhoea, chlamydia and mycoplasma. The condition affects women and can result in infertility and permanent damage to the woman's reproductive organs. 

STDs & Infertility

STIs can negatively impact fertility in males and females and the child's health outcomes. The common STIs in Australia that may affect fertility and newborn health are gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HIV, syphilis and genital herpes.

STDs during Pregnancy

Getting STI while pregnant can pose a significant risk to the health of the woman and her unborn child. HIV and syphilis can infect the baby while still in the womb, while genital herpes and chlamydia can be passed on to the baby during delivery.

Sexually transmitted infections are becoming more common in Australia. All STIs are preventable, most are treatable, and some are curable. However, not all STIs show symptoms and untreated STIs can lead to adverse complications. For this reason, sexually active individuals should seek regular sexual health checks. 

If you suspect you may have STI or have any concerns or questions regarding your sexual health, do not hesitate to book a consultation with a sexual health doctor now. 

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References


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