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Monday, 09 November 2009 19:09

Sexual Health Week 2009 in Australia

The first-ever Sexual Health Week began on November 9, 2009, and will run through November 15. As part of SHW2009, a survey has shown that nearly all adult Australians, taking part in the study, have had unprotected sex, but only about half of them have had a test for sexually transmitted infection.

A survey conducted as part of Sexual Health Week in Australia found that of one thousand people polled, between the ages of 18 and 40 years, 93.1% said they had had unprotected sex in the past.

Of those having sex without a condom (unprotected sex), 56.2% said they have never taken a test for sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Jill Michelson, the national clinical adviser for Marie Stopes International, stated, "The majority of safe sex campaigns are targeted at youth these days, yet this research shows that 35- to 40-year-olds are just as exposed to unsafe sex practices.”

She adds, "More needs to be done to get the message to them to stop." [News.com.au: “Unprotected sex 'common in older adults'”]

Other findings of the study are:

•    47.5% of the participants of the study, 35 to 40 years of age, said they were not in a monogamous relationship when they last had unprotected sex.

•    Of the people surveyed, those 18 to 24 years of age and those 35 to 40 years of age were the least likely to have had even one STI test.

The study also surveyed women versus men with respect to the likelihood of ever having a STI check-up. The conclusion is found on page two.

The survey of Australian adults, as part of SHW2009, found that 51% of women reported having an STI check-up.

However, only 36% of men reported ever having at least one STI check-up.

Ms. Michelson commented, “Australians just don't seem to be getting the message (that) regular STI check-ups and condom usage are the only way to safeguard your sexual health.” [News.com.au]

The website of Sexual Health Week 2009 states it “… aims to educate and empower males and females to take control of their sexual health.

The website states, "This Sexual Health Week, we're calling on all Australians to do their bit for the country's sexual health and have an STI check-up.”

And, "STIs and unplanned pregnancy are key health issues that affect many Australians, and we're hoping ... we can raise the bar when it comes to the level of sexual health knowledge out there, and at the same time decrease the statistics."

The five primary goals of Sexual Health Week 2009 are:

1.    Decrease the rates of sexually transmitted infections in Australia

2.    Encourage regular sexual health check ups

3.    Remove the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections and sexual health

4.    Promote awareness of the many contraceptive options available

5.    Reinforce the importance of condom usage and practicing safe sex at all times

The organizers of Sexual Health Week 2009 in Australia are: Marie Stopes International, Family Planning Queensland, and Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT.

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