Syphilis and gonorrhoea notifications are on the rise. Living Positive Victoria, working closely with the Victorian Department of Health and other health organisations, is reminding people living with HIV, to prioritise their sexual health and get tested regularly.

According to a recent announcement[1] from Communicable Diseases at the Department of Health and Human Services, there has been a sharp increase in notifications over the last few years especially among men who have sex with men (MSM).

Syphilis

  • 1,125 cases of infectious syphilis were notified in Victoria in 2016, compared to 948 cases in 2015 and 631 cases in 2014
  • 252 cases notified in the first quarter of 2017
  • The large majority of notified cases are in MSM. Nearly half of the cases were in HIV positive MSM, and of these, a significant proportion are reinfections.

Gonorrhoea

  • 6,265 cases of gonorrhoea were notified in Victoria in 2016, compared to 4,864 cases in 2015 and 3273 cases in 2014
  • There were a total of 2,105 cases notified in the first quarter of 2017
  • Although this increase was seen for both men and women, the infection continues to occur primarily among MSM.

The presence of an STI with a person living with HIV can impact ones viral load even when there are no symptoms. For MSM, the risk of an STI increases if one or more of the following behaviours apply:

  • any condomless anal sex
  • more than 10 sexual partners in the last 6 months
  • participate in group sex
  • use of recreational drugs during sex.

 

You can prevent most STIs. Using barrier protection such as condoms (male condoms or female condoms) and taking to your partner about their sexual health can reduce your risk, however, regular testing is vital to diagnose, properly treat and eliminate the transmission of STIs. Sexually active HIV positive people should have regular screening for STIs in addition to routine blood testing HIV monitoring (ie. HIV viral load or CD4 count).

To get advice on diagnosing and managing STIs contact:

Melbourne Sexual Health Centre

Better Health Channel

The Drama Down Under

If you need to notify a sexual partner that they may be at risk of an STI contact www.letthemknow.org.au

[1] Increase in syphilis and gonorrhoea in men who have sex with men (MSM) Advisory, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. 20 June 2017.