The existing work undertaken under the National Gay Men’s Syphilis Action Plan is noted. Strengthened and comprehensive sexual health programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities affected by syphilis are endorsed and supported. While there are appropriate common general responses to these epidemics, these populations will require quite different interventions which acknowledge their social, behavioural and epidemiological contexts.
Priority actions in patient and provider initiated testing and early detection
- Develop strategies to improve STI testing rates and coverage in priority populations to reduce rates in gonorrhoea47, syphilis, chlamydia, and trichomonas and the appropriate surveillance of this testing activity, particularly among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Consider strategies to facilitate access to health services for younger people, including the provision of independent Medicare cards.
- Consider the recommendations from the Australian Collaboration for Chlamydia Enhanced Sentinel Surveillance and the Australian Chlamydia Control Effectiveness Pilot and their impact on the implementation plan for this strategy.
- Develop and implement a process to consider and evaluate models of contact tracing and partner notification that may apply to different contexts in Australia—particularly with respect to cost-benefit and legal responsibilities—to guide public health policy.
- Conduct a systematic review of the evidence base around trichomonas vaginalis infection, to develop actions to deal with it.
- Respond to high rates of syphilis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations through greater emphasis on comprehensive sexual health programs in the primary care setting that may include improved syphilis testing, contact tracing and follow up as well as healthcare provider and community education.
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47 Johnson GH & Mak DB, 2002, ‘Gonorrhoea screening in general practice: perceived barriers and strategies to improve screening rates’, letter, Medical Journal of Australia, 176 (9): pp. 448–449.