SOME young people are ignoring the safe-sex message and putting their fertility at risk, the chief of Bendigo Community Health Services says.
CEO Kim Sykes said the Loddon Mallee rate of chlamydia was above the state average.
“If we rolled up all of the other sexually transmitted diseases and compared them, chlamydia on its own would be more than half of the STDs that people see here,” she said.
“So chlamydia is still very common.
“We know condoms are still the best protection against most sexually transmitted illnesses and we know that there are some young people that either don’t wish to wear them or for some, it’s actually perhaps an issue of access.”
Last week marked Fertility Week and the Fertility Coalition launched an animation aimed at young people.
The animation urges them to use a condom when having sex, as some STDs, including chlamydia, can cause fertility problems.
“Often when we’re talking to really quite young people the notion of a family in a decade’s time seems like such a long way away,” Ms Sykes said.
“Some young people don’t really recognise how big that is and what impact that might have on them at that time.”
Ms Sykes provided an example of a young man who had screened positively for chlamydia three times and still refused to wear a condom.
“On the plus side we’re testing a lot of young people and those young people are being discovered quite early and there’s good intervention,” she said.
“Any time the person’s screened the nurse is talking to them about the notion of safe sex and the notion of condoms and those sorts of things.”
But Ms Sykes said young people who lived in rural areas faced more hurdles than their city cousins. She said accessing condoms could present challenges, with anonymity being a challenge in small towns.
“If we look at the Loddon Mallee region we’ve got quite a number of smaller towns,” Ms Sykes said.
“If the young people are coming here for school, if they’re in the city, it’s not so bad but otherwise, to try and come in without anyone knowing what you’re up to is quite difficult.
“So if we looked at the whole region there are issues living in a rural area that do contribute to the issue.”