Second National Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy 2010 - 2013

6.2 Patient and provider initiated testing and early detection

Page last updated: July 2010

Early detection is important to prevent the development of complications and to limit further transmission of STIs. Many STIs are asymptomatic and will go undiagnosed and untreated unless at-risk individuals are encouraged to be tested. The implementation of methods to improve early STI detection and management is supported.40,41, 42. Improved health-seeking behaviour (through health promotion) and access to testing are key elements of a response.

Voluntary testing is recognised as a successful approach to detecting STIs. Recent cost benefit analysis research identified mandatory testing of sex workers as unnecessarily frequent and excessively expensive.43 Mandatory testing also impacts on access to sexual health services. Recent research identified that when condom use is high and STI rates are low, frequent mandatory testing is unnecessary and has the potential to limit access to services for higher risk groups.44

The Australian Government will provide leadership in the assessment of new testing technologies and strategies. Administrative mechanisms for these assessments are underway as part of the broader health reform process.

Top of Page

40 Ostergaard L, Moller J, Andersen B & Olesen F, 1996, ‘Diagnosis of urogenital Chlamydia trachomatis infection in women based on mailed samples obtained at home: multipractice comparative study’, BMJ 313: pp. 1186–1189.
41 Ostergaard L, Andersen B, Olesen F &Moller J, 1998, Efficacy of home sampling for screening of Chlamydia trachomatis: randomised study. British Medical Journal, 317: pp. 26-27.
42 Mahilum-Tapay L, et al., 2007, New point of care Chlamydia Rapid Test-bridging the gap between diagnosis and treatment, performance evaluation study, British Medical Journal, 335(8 December), pp.1190–1194.
43 Wilson D, Heymer K, Anderson J, O’Connor J, Harcourt C & Donovan D, 2009, ‘Sex workers can be screened too often: a cost-effectiveness analysis in Victoria, Australia’,
44 Samaranayake A, Chen M, Hocking J, Bradshaw C, Cumming R & Fairley C, 2009, Legislation requiring monthly testing of sex workers with low rates of sexually transmitted infections restricts access to services for higher risk individuals.