STI checks plummet during coronavirus lockdown forcing Minister for Health to call for testing blitz

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Victorians had so little casual sex during their draconian lockdown and were too afraid to go to the doctor that STD checks plummeted. 

Statistics from Melbourne Sexual Health Centre found people without symptoms seeking STI testing this year fell by 68 per cent.

Notifications for STI infections in Victoria fell by nearly 20 per cent between January and September, sparking medical officials to call for a testing blitz across the state.

Victorians had so little casual sex during their draconian lockdown and were too afraid to go to the doctor that STD checks plummeted (stock image)

Victorians had so little casual sex during their draconian lockdown and were too afraid to go to the doctor that STD checks plummeted (stock image)

‘STIs don’t discriminate. Anyone who is sexually active, regardless of their age or background can contract them,’ Health Minister Martin Foley said.

‘That’s why as we move towards Covid Normal everyone needs to take the necessary precautions and get tested.’

Covid-19 had a devastating impact in Victoria, with the Melbourne and Mitchell Shire being forced into a hard lockdown lasting more than three months and leaving thousands out of work.

Social distancing strategies and restrictions on social gatherings have limited public meetings over the past few months and effectively reduced opportunities to meet and mingle with prospective partners.

Health officials also believed dropping numbers could stem from Victorians pushing back their sexual health checks until after the pandemic to ease the stress on medical staff in trying times.

This week is STI Testing Week in Victoria and officials hope to inspire residents to undergo important sexual health checks.

‘Many STIs have no signs or symptoms – so if you’re sexually active, you should have an STI check once a year,’ Mr Foley said. 

It is estimated around one in every six people will contract an STI throughout their lifetime and most won’t even know it.

Mr Foley claimed STIs were on the rise due to ‘changing sexual behaviour’, persistent stigma, decreasing and inconsistent condom use, migration, and social media networking.

Social distancing strategies and restrictions on social gatherings have limited public meetings over the past few months and effectively reduced opportunities to meet and mingle with prospective partners (stock image)

Social distancing strategies and restrictions on social gatherings have limited public meetings over the past few months and effectively reduced opportunities to meet and mingle with prospective partners (stock image)

Testing is available at a local GP, family planning clinics, Aboriginal community controlled health organisations, community health services, and specialist sexual health clinics.

Mr Foley said it is important to keep track of your sexual health as behaviours change with testing confidential, quick and pain free. 

Leaving an STI untreated can cause long term damage, including infertility, but most are curable with the right treatment.

Mr Foley said authorities wanted to see more people who were thinking about starting a family taking an STI test to prevent syphilis. 

There has been a 475 per cent increase in infectious syphilis cases in Victoria since 2010, which can cause miscarriage, serious birth defects and stillbirth.

‘We are urging women and their partners to have an STI check before and during pregnancy,’ Mr Foley said.

‘This can stop women from passing on the syphilis infection to their babies and prevent complications including tragic stillbirths.’

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