The Andrews Labor Government will roll out a $1 million package to mark the start of Victoria’s first-ever STI Testing Week to encourage more Victorians to ‘spring into action’ this spring and get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and blood borne viruses.
Victorians are being encouraged to visit their GP to get tested, and if required, treated, in a bid to reduce surging rates of STIs including gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia, and blood borne viruses among at-risk populations.
Minister for Health Jill Hennessy today announced the package which will include $247,000 to the North West Melbourne Primary Health Network to help GPs across Victoria detect and treat STIs, sooner.
The package will also include $760,000 for a dedicated Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) catch-up vaccination program through sexual health clinics to help stop the spread of HPV-related cancers and disease among men who have sex with men (MSM).
The HPV vaccine, Gardasil, given free to adolescents under the National HPV Vaccination Program, has been extremely safe and effective in preventing cervical cancer, HPV-related cancers in men and genital warts in men and women.
There is a need to increase coverage among MSM to reduce the burden of the HPV-related diseases. Most anal cancer cases are HPV-related, with rates in MSM between 20-100 per 100,000 men. MSM are also three to five times higher risk of developing genital warts, almost exclusively caused by HPV.
The Victorian HIV and Hepatitis Integrated Training and Learning program will also be expanded to support more GPs to test more people, more often. The program educates and trains GPs for the diagnosis, treatment and management of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C and STIs.
To build awareness of the need for regular and frequent sexual health testing Spring into Action: Victoria’s STI Testing Week will run from 10 to 16 September.
The week will focus on educating Victorians around STI and blood borne virus testing, and services available in their local communities. The week will address increases in STIs including HIV, gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, and BBVs such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and how and where to get tested.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“This spring Victorians are encouraged to ‘spring into action’ and get tested for STIs at their local GP. We can’t pretend STIs don’t happen because about one in six people will get an STI.”
“Victoria’s first-ever STI Testing Week is about increasing sexual health literacy among at-risk Victorians, specifically when, where and how to get tested and seek treatment, without stigma or discrimination.”
“Our catch-up vaccination program, as well as training more GPs will make a real difference in reducing the burden of HPV related diseases and cancers, and getting real results for Victorians.”