Our forum is under maintenance at the moment which means we can't reply to any posts or comments. We'll be back up online soon - in the meantime if you have a general Play Safe question please email us [email protected] or, if you have a sexual health question, you can ask Nurse Nettie completely confidentially here https://playsafe.health.nsw.gov.au/ask-nurse-nettie

Why are STIs on the rise in Australia?

DeftRatDeftRat Posts: 84 Mod Squad
Hi all,

I found this article this morning and thought it was interesting to link the rise in STIs with an increased use of dating and hook up apps. I have definitely had an increase in sexual partners since using apps, and have also been aware that I may be exposed to more STIs, have others had the same thoughts?



  • MintMilanoMintMilano Posts: 181 Mod Squad
    I'd never really thought of it, but now that I have I would say that yes, I've definitely seen an increased number in partners (and unfortunately encountered a few STIs  :s ) since the dawn of online dating and hook up apps. Technology - always causing as many problems as it solves!

    But I have seen on Grindr (an app for LGBTIQ men, for those who don't know it) more adds about STI screening and HIV prevention, so if guys using it are having more sex, hopefully they're being reminded to get tested more, too.
  • CloakOfAshCloakOfAsh Posts: 319 Rock Star
    Interesting to read - @Nurse_Nettie what do you think of all this?
  • HoneyPotHoneyPot Posts: 123 Mod Squad
    I saw this article this morning, thanks for posting it @DeftRat ! Such a fascinating read! I was a bit shocked (but also not shocked lol) by the stat that only 35% of hetero men used condoms during their last casual sexual experience! Thats not heaps is it?
    I thought it was interesting too that they were talking about how more testing means more of the infection is going to be seen - and this is kind of a good thing, right? The more infections we detect, the more we can clear up!
  • Nurse_NettieNurse_Nettie Posts: 319 Mod Squad
    edited August 2017
    @CloakOfAsh that article was written by a well respected researcher in the area of sexual health so I would trust the data! Dating & hook up apps are definitely everywhere & we're still learning what that means & how to best reach out to those who use them! @Mintmilano great to hear you've seen some STI screening messages on Grindr! 

    We recommend that if you're a sexually adventurous person (10 or more sex partners in a 6 month period) we want to encourage testing every 3 months. Make it part of a routine. Doesn't take more than 15 minutes when you don't have any symptoms! If you have less partners than that, but still get around probably every 6-12 months is best :)
  • Aunt_FloAunt_Flo Posts: 491 Mod Squad
    Yeesh @HoneyPot 35% feels heaps low!
  • PurplePurple Posts: 90 Mod Squad
    I would also like to add that herpes (probably one if not the most common STI) is not included when you ask to have a sexual health check, one of the reasons SO many people have herpes and don't know they have it. You need to actually ask for it to be included when you are tested. This article is informative and awesome but I always feel disheartened because so many STIs can be spread simply from sexual contact/oral sex - not from promiscuity/multiple partners or not using a condom but from a long term partner and when using protection. Just some food for thought.
  • DeftRatDeftRat Posts: 84 Mod Squad
    I have noticed them on Grindr too @MintMilano. Not only adverts from screening and testing services but also from the apps themselves. Hornet (another app for LGBTIQ men) has regular updates that get sent out to users about different ways of testing, prevention and also what is prominent in the community at the moment. I have seen a lot go ads concerning shigella at the moment. It's good to know that these apps, while offering a way to connect sexually with a vast array of individuals, are also invested in the sexual health of their users.

    @HoneyPot it does seem weird that seeing more infection from increased testing is a good thing. But hopefully it means that more people are being treated with less infections going untreated. 
  • MintMilanoMintMilano Posts: 181 Mod Squad
    @jessica I think the reason they don't always test for herpes is because blood tests can't tell between the different strains, so even if you've just had a cold sore on your lips you'd show a positive herpes result. Which might end up causing more anxiety than necessary in some people, since there's not that much you can do about it unless you have symptoms that could be physically checked?
    might need @Nurse_Nettie to confirm that one though. 
  • PurplePurple Posts: 90 Mod Squad
    @MintMilano they can actually tell the difference between the strains i.e. whether it's HSV 1 or 2, but it is complicated as HSV 1 (which is typically found on the mouth) can be transmitted through oral sex to the genital area. Like you said, another reason they don't check is because a positive result is difficult for many people. 
  • Nurse_NettieNurse_Nettie Posts: 319 Mod Squad
    edited August 2017
    @MintMilano you're close, but I'll clarify: the blood test is not recommended for screening (screening is when we test when you don't have symptoms). The blood test can tell whether you've been exposed to herpes type 1 and/or herpes type 2, but it doesn't tell you where on the body you have it. People commonly think that type 1 is on the mouth and type 2 is on the genitals, but that's not always true!  More & more genital herpes is caused by herpes type 1 -- mostly transmitted through oral sex.  

    So what do you do with the info you get from a blood test? If it's not causing symptoms, we don't have any treatment to offer & we also can't tell you much about what to expect going forward. Some people will never get symptoms of herpes. If you don't know where on the body you have it, you can't make clear decisions about how to avoid passing it on to partners. 

    @jessica is right too though! Herpes is incredibly common! You don't have to be promiscuous to get it -- you don't even have to be sexually active! Many of us will get it in childhood through non-sexual kissing.

    You can significantly decrease the risk of transmission during vaginal or anal sex by using condoms, but remember, herpes is transmitted on the surface of the skin all around the genitals, bum, even upper inner thighs. Condoms don't cover all of that which is why they're not 100% effective. Condoms or dental dams used in oral sex can prevent transmission even better, but they're used much less frequently.  

    I do wonder what would happen if we made the herpes blood test more common (it's currently not recommended for STI screening). If more people realised they actually had it without any symptoms, would the result be less stigma or more stress?
  • PurplePurple Posts: 90 Mod Squad
    @Nurse_Nettie thank you so much for your insightful response! I personally think it should be included in the blood test. However, if there's a positive diagnosis I think the person needs to be properly informed (i.e. about how common it is, that with antivirals + condoms the risk of transmission can be reduced to about 1-2% etc, that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 5 men have HSV 2 and that about 70% or thereabouts of the population have HSV 1). In the long run, I think it's best for someone who has a positive diagnoses to know about it and to be informed and educated, rather than the extreme stigma surrounding STIs like herpes to continue for the rest of time. I feel like the less informed people are the more stigma there is. Particularly with HSV 1 there is little to no stigma about having a cold sore on your mouth, but then if you have genital HSV 1 (which many people contract from oral sex before they have even had penetrative sex) there is still so much stigma despite it being the exact same thing. 

    Anyway, I found this article really interesting, and I'm not surprised that STIs are rising if people are engaging in unsafe sexual practices. But sometimes it is frustrating to see the rise of STIs being attributed to millennial promiscuity (not that having multiple partners is a bad thing as long as you are safe about it!) when they can be transmitted from a cheating spouse, via oral sex, even from kissing or skin to skin contact, from a partner who may not know they have one etc. STIs don't discriminate and you can retract one from your 1st or 100th partner. 
  • NickiPowerNickiPower Posts: 423 Rock Star
    I also wonder if due to the advances in medicine that people tend to be more reactive vs. preventative. @jessica I don't think it's just attributed to millennials, I read an article that mentioned STIs are on the rise in retirement villages. 
  • ElleBelleElleBelle Posts: 410 Community Manager
    Interesting @NickiPower! I wonder if it's because once you know pregnancy is no longer a risk, you forget about all the other risks?
  • MintMilanoMintMilano Posts: 181 Mod Squad
    @ElleBelle that's a good point, and that even goes further than retirement villages. I remember a friend once telling me she was on the pill so she didn't worry about condoms and I was just like..... !!!!!!
    I mean I guess everyone has the right to choose, but I don't she'd even considered anything other than pregnancy in her decision. 
  • CloakOfAshCloakOfAsh Posts: 319 Rock Star
    @NickiPower that's a great point. I know a lot of people who don't worry about condoms because they have other preventative measures for pregnancy. People seem much more afraid of pregnancy than infections etc.
  • MsBlueStreakMsBlueStreak Posts: 475 Rock Star
    *engages sarcastic tone* But aren't all diseases treatable now? So why do we need to prevent them? I can just get treated right? Besides I'm a clean person! *disengage sarcasm*

    So yeah, I used to hear from a lot of people who thought being "clean" (as in soap and water) and "eating healthy" and exercising would save them from all manner of things that germs and viruses tend not to give two hoots about. These people would not survive the apocalypse.
  • NickiPowerNickiPower Posts: 423 Rock Star
    It possibly could be because of the chance of pregnancy is removed. That's a great point! 
  • DeftRatDeftRat Posts: 84 Mod Squad
    @NickiPower I think I read the same article about the retirement villages. It was actually talking about how the Super Gonorrhoea is the most prevalent within retirement homes in Australia. Interesting that older generations are the ones most at risk of the harder to treat gonorrhoea
  • NickiPowerNickiPower Posts: 423 Rock Star
    That is interesting @DeftRat! And a good thing to remember your safe sex at every stage of life! 
Sign In or Register to comment.