Hon Roger Cook BA GradDipBus MBA MLA

Hon Roger Cook BA GradDipBus MBA MLA

Deputy Premier; Minister for Health; Mental Health

    Sexual health resources tackle rising infection rates

    3/07/2019 11:35 AM
    • New strategies and resources to shape response on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs) in Western Australia
    • $2 million committed for a targeted action plan to address an ongoing syphilis outbreak in regional WA
    • Aboriginal health workers and health services will be supported through a comprehensive STI and BBV manual

    A new suite of sexual health and blood-borne virus strategies and resources will target reducing the transmission of infections in Western Australia.


    STIs and BBVs continue to pose a significant public health threat, with nearly 12,000 cases of chlamydia reported each year and increases in gonorrhoea and syphilis cases in pockets across the State.


    While significant progress has already been made in reducing STIs and BBVs, these new strategies and resources will build on this work to reduce transmission and improve the quality of life for those living with the BBVs and/or STIs.


    State-wide consultation has also been undertaken to inform these strategies and resources.


    Sexual health and blood-borne viruses strategies, 2019-2023


    Five sexual health strategies (STI, hepatitis C, hepatitis B, HIV and Aboriginal STI and BBV) have been designed which outline ambitious targets to test, treat and prevent STIs and BBVs in Western Australian communities.


    These strategies have been based on current evidence and include local actions, tailored to unique community needs. They also align with national STI and BBV strategies to ensure they are consistent with national goals and targets.


    The strategies build on significant progress achieved in recent years, including the uptake of new anti-retroviral drugs to treat hepatitis C and HIV, new needle and syringe services in regional areas, and a new STI treatment code enabling key frontline health workers to administer treatments.


    According to current evidence, HIV cannot be sexually transmitted if a person has an undetectable viral load. This is an important milestone in the HIV story within WA and Australia.


    The strategies highlight the importance of working in partnership across government, non-government, healthcare and research organisations to reduce transmission, morbidity and mortality caused by STIs and BBVs, and to minimise the personal and social impact of infections.


    Syphilis Outbreak Response Action Plan


    The Syphilis Outbreak Response Action Plan represents increased and strengthened efforts in regional and remote WA to control the spread of infectious syphilis and prevent cases of congenital syphilis.


    Developed by key stakeholders who represent local service providers and community members from affected areas, the plan guides Western Australia's approach in combating the ongoing infectious syphilis outbreak currently impacting Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley, Pilbara and Goldfields regions of Western Australia.


    The WA Department of Health has committed $2 million to commence recommended actions from the plan. This will include a syphilis register to support point-of-care testing, the cornerstone of the National Action Plan on syphilis, and regional service delivery.


    The funds will also contribute to health promotion and training initiatives to support the staff on the ground who are responding to the outbreak in our communities.


    Talk, test, treat, trace, an STI and BBV manual for Aboriginal communities in Western Australia


    In WA, Aboriginal people are more likely to experience STIs and BBVs than non-Aboriginal people. This can represent a significant public health issue if not prevented, detected early, and treated. The Talk, test, treat, trace manual provides a framework and guiding principles to support public health programs and primary care services to reduce the prevalence and impact of STIs and BBVs in Aboriginal communities.


    The Talk, test, treat, trace manual will help ensure our workforce is equipped to conduct sound practice within Aboriginal cultural security.


    Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:


    "These sexual health resources and strategies will help reduce the transmission of STIs and blood-borne viruses, and improve rates of diagnosis and treatment.


    "Importantly, they also provide a focus on improving the quality of life for people living with STIs and/or blood-borne viruses and address the stigma people still experience.


    "These strategies and resources represent strong collegial work with health professionals, government departments, community and public health organisations, researchers and members of our communities."


    Comment attributed to Kimberley MLA Josie Farrer:


    "I am concerned that syphilis continues to disproportionately affect the Kimberley and I'm pleased to see $2 million being invested to implement the Syphilis Outbreak Response Action Plan."


    Minister's office - 6552 6500