Prevention, Testing and Diagnosis

Summary

  • ​​​​​​​Sexual health is a fundamental component of a general health assessment and should be discussed with all patients, particularly at-risk groups.
  • Safer sex and condom  use remains the cornerstone for sexual  health promotion messages. 
  • Contact tracing (partner notification) is an essential aspect of the public health response to STIs and is the responsibility of the diagnosing clinician.

Primary care professionals are best placed to offer testing, discuss sexual risk and manage sexually transmissible infections (STI) and their complications.

Prevention

Sexual health is a fundamental component of a general health assessment. It should be discussed with all patients, particularly at-risk groups.

It is important to take a sexual history and perform a risk assessment. However, this does not need to be lengthy or awkward.  A  couple of brief questions is usually sufficient.

Safer sex and condom use remains the cornerstone of sexual  health promotion messages. 
 

Testing

STIs are frequently asymptomatic. Transmission often occurs without the presence of any symptoms. Testing is therefore important in reducing morbidity and onward transmission.

We encourage primary care providers to offer opportunistic STI testing for all appropriate individuals.

Individuals aged between 15-29 years should be offered a chlamydia test, regardless of their reason for seeking health care.

It is important to also provide individuals receiving STI testing with suitable information about testing and diagnosis, as well as management if the result is positive.

The STI Management Guidelines website provides clear and concise information that can be used while a patient is with you.

 

Diagnosis

Although there is a network of publicly-funded sexual health services in Australia, the majority of STIs are diagnosed in primary care.

Contact tracing (also called 'partner notification') is essential for the prevention of STIs by preventing onward transmission. Contact tracing is the responsibility of the diagnosing clinician.

The contact tracing website or manual can assist primary care providers.

 

National Strategy Targets

 The National STI Strategy 2014-17 set the following targets related to prevention, testing and diagnosis, to be met by 2017:​

  • ​Achieve human papillomavirus (HPV) adolescent vaccination coverage of 70%.
  • Increase testing coverage in priority populations.
  • Reduce the incidence of chlamydia.
  • Reduce the incidence of gonorrhoea.
  • Reduce the incidence of infectious syphilis and eliminate congenital syphilis.