Sexual health nurses at Bendigo Community Health Services are urging people to practice safe sex following an increase in reported cases of syphilis.
Victorian government statistics show four cases of infectious syphilis were reported in the Greater Bendigo area between January 1 and April 8 - an increase of two from the same time in 2018.
For the whole of 2018 Greater Bendigo had 13 cases of infectious syphilis.
BCHS sexual health nurse Mary-Anne McCluskey said staff had definitely noticed an increase in cases of syphilis.
"It is predominately in men who have sex with men but there has also increase in women as well," she said.
"You can only guess (why cases have increased) but there are probably a couple of factors and one could be that PrEP (a HIV prevention drug) is available to prevent HIV so people are (worrying) about the prevalence of other STIs.
"It could also be caused by an increase in sexual partners, probably related to dating apps."
Across Victoria a total of 1372 cases of infectious syphilis were notified in 2018, up from 1351 in 2017 and 1134 in 2016.
Ms McCluskey said the best way to prevent being infected with syphilis and other STIs is to practice safe sex.
"Using condoms and getting tested frequently (is the best protection)," she said.
"You can often have STIs and have no idea. So if you have condom-less sex, you need to do frequent STI testing.
"People can be tested by their GP or go to the sexual health hub at Bendigo Community Health Services."
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