Sex in Australia: Sexually transmissible infection and blood-borne virus history in a representative sample of adults

Authors

  • Andrew E. Grulich,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales
      National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales, 376 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010. Fax: (02) 9332 1837; e-mail: agrulich@nchecr.unsw.edu.au
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  • Richard O. de Visser,

    1. Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University, Victoria
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  • Anthony M.A. Smith,

    1. Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University, Victoria
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  • Chris E. Risse,

    1. Health Promotion Unit, Central Sydney Area Health Service, and Australian Centre for Health Promotion, University of Sydney, New South Wales
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  • Juliet Richters

    1. National Centre in HIV Social Research, University of New South Wales
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National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales, 376 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010. Fax: (02) 9332 1837; e-mail: agrulich@nchecr.unsw.edu.au

Abstract

Objective To describe the lifetime and recent history of STIs and BBV, including place of seeking treatment, in a representative sample of Australian adults.

MethodsComputer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a representative sample of 10,173 men and 9,134 women aged 16–59 years from all States and Territories. The overall response rate was 73.1% (69.4% among men and 77.6% among women).

Results: Overall, 20.2% of men and 16.9% of women had ever been diagnosed with an STI or BBV, and 2.0% and 2.2% respectively had been diagnosed in the past year. The participant's usual general practitioner was the most common location of treatment. Sexual health clinics accounted for a small proportion of treatment locations. Predictors of recent STI or BBV diagnosis in men included homosexual or bisexual identity, a history of sex work as a worker or client, a history of injecting drugs and having more than one partner in the past year. In women, predictors included bisexual identity, history of sex work as a worker, injecting drug use, and having more than one partner in the past year. Around 40% of men and women had been tested for HIV and in homosexually identified men, 77% had been tested.

Conclusion STIs and BBVs are common infections in Australia and care is mostly received from general practitioners. Although a variety of predictors, including homosexual or bisexual identity, injecting drug use and sex work were related to STI diagnosis, STIs were not uncommon among people without these risk factors.

Implications: General practitioners in Australia require a high level of expertise to recognise, offer testing, and manage common STIs and BBVs.

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