20 February 2015

Summit to improve Aboriginal sexual health

Government and non-government agencies from across the State will come together today with the aim of further driving down the rates of sexually transmitted disease in Aboriginal Western Australians.

The Statewide Aboriginal Sexual Health and Blood-Borne Virus Summit will be hosted by WA Health, in partnership with the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia, and attended by representatives from Aboriginal Health Services, research organisations and partner organisations.

WA Health Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Unit Manager, Lisa Bastian said significant progress had been made in the decade since the last summit was held.

“In 2004, the rate of infectious syphilis was 122 times higher among Aboriginal people than among non-Aboriginal people, chlamydia was 13 times higher and gonorrhoea 75 times higher,” she said.

“Infectious syphilis is now 3 times higher among the Aboriginal population than the non-Aboriginal population, chlamydia is 4 times higher and gonorrhoea 31 times higher. Hepatitis B notifications rates have also halved since 2005.

“While the disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people is still too high, we are heading in the right direction.”

Ms Bastian said the progress over the last decade could be attributed to a number of factors, including the establishment of regional sexual health teams and the implementation of comprehensive Aboriginal sexual health and blood-borne virus strategies.

“Strong partnerships between health services and non-government organisations have also been central to the successes of the past decade,” she said.

The aim of the summit is to inform the development of the Third Western Australian Aboriginal Sexual Health and Blood-Borne Virus Strategy.

“The reality is that the rates of notifications for these infections continue to be higher among the Aboriginal population compared with other Western Australians and further effort is required to see ongoing improvements.”

The summit will also look other issues including the high rates of Hepatitis C in Aboriginal people.

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