Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) are common and can often go unnoticed, especially chlamydia, which typically shows no symptoms. Early detection of STIs is crucial to prevent transmission to others and avoid complications like infertility. Screening for STIs should be based on an individual’s age, sexual behaviour, and the prevalence of HIV or other STIs in their community.
During sexual health consultations, doctors should create a non-judgmental and comfortable environment to encourage patients to discuss their sexual history openly. Asking open-ended questions about recent sexual activity, number of partners, contraception use, and potential risk factors for blood-borne viruses (e.g., hepatitis B, C, and HIV) helps inform appropriate testing.
Contact tracing plays a vital role in reducing STI transmission. Clinicians are responsible for notifying current and past partners, and several online partner notification services are available for this purpose.
Young people, especially those under 29 years old, have a higher risk of chlamydia, and regular screening is recommended. High-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men (MSM), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people who inject drugs, and sex workers, should also be screened regularly for specific STIs based on their risk profiles.
Pregnant women should be screened for hepatitis B, C, HIV, and syphilis to protect their health and their unborn child’s health. Partner testing and treatment are crucial to prevent reinfection and further spread of STIs.
Regular STI screening, open communication about sexual history, and contact tracing are essential in preventing and managing sexually transmissible infections. Early detection and treatment can help protect individuals and their partners from potential complications and ensure overall sexual health and well-being.