STI AWARENESS MONTH: 28% of young Aussies are skipping essential sexual health checks

Young Aussies are being significantly under-screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), with sexual health assistant app “Geni” reporting that 28 per cent are skipping out on essential sexual health checks.


Young Aussies are being significantly under-screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), with sexual health assistant app “Geni” reporting that 28 per cent are skipping out on essential sexual health checks.

A national survey conducted by La Trobe University in 2019 found that whilst nearly half of Year 10-12 students are sexually active, the rate of STIs in Australia is on the rise, indicating that crucial sexual health checks are being skipped nationwide.

Approximately 97,000 Australians are diagnosed with chlamydia each year, and STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea can often be asymptomatic. Due to this, by choosing to forego regular sexual health checks young people, particularly those who may be having unprotected sex with multiple partners, may be transmitting an infection to an intimate partner unknowingly and in some cases can lead to long-term health consequences such as infertility if the infection remains untreated.


What’s causing a lack of sexual health awareness in young people?

A key factor which has led to a lack of knowledge about sexual health amongst young people is the significant variation in sex education teaching materials in Australian schools, resulting in students being provided with inconsistent sexual health advice. A study conducted by the Australian Federation of Aids Organisations (AFAO) into the current state of Australia’s sexual education programs indicated that sex education was often only provided for heteronormative relationships, with little to no information given to students about same-sex relationships and sexual experiences.

Fears of awkwardness, not wanting to show genitals to a stranger, and finding the subject of sexual health uncomfortable have also been cited as barriers for young people who have never had a sexual health check before.


How can we fix this?

April is STI Awareness Month, which aims to highlight the importance of booking a sexual health check and getting tested regularly for STIs when needed.

Alongside improving the way young people are taught about sexual health in the Australian schooling system, several companies have worked to develop apps which act as a resource for young people to gain a greater understanding and take ownership of their sexual health. One such app is Geni, which provides a safe space for young adults to learn more about their sexual health, acting as a sexual health sidekick by featuring a self-check survey that allows users to assess whether they are due for a sexual health check.

The app also answers frequently asked questions about sexual health, provides First Nations and LGBTQ+ friendly healthcare resources and most importantly can match users to sexual health clinics near them which are suited to their individual needs.

Apps like Geni and improved education surrounding sexual health will hopefully help to reduce stigmas around this issue and will hopefully lead to higher testing rates, lower rates of infection and improved treatment.

As Aggie Cox, Marketing Director (ANZ) at Hologic (the company behind Geni) explains: STIs are a normal part of adult life.”

“It’s important for young adults to know they do not need to be embarrassed. We created Geni to help improve awareness, address the stigma associated with discussing sexual health and as part of our wider commitment to providing better access to healthcare for women. Geni ensures individuals are in control of their sexual health and have the information they need when they need it,” added Cox.

Additionally, if you’re looking for free condoms, dental dams, or lubricants the University of Melbourne’s ‘Safer Sex Practices’ program provides students with “free, easy, and discreet access to contraceptives and sexual health information so that you’re empowered to practice safer sex”. Australian-based students of the University can click the above hyperlink and order these products confidentially and free of charge in an effort to improve sexual health amongst students by overcoming barriers to purchasing these products such as affordability and accessibility.


To learn more about Geni, visit their website, or download it on the App Store or on Google Play for free.

Image provided by Geni.

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