The incidence of sexually transmitted diseases within the community remains a challenging concern for local health workers. Last October/November a Young Persons Check was conducted across the communities which targeted Youth between the ages of 15-24 years. The check included screening individuals for sexually transmitted infections and risk factors for chronic disease. Some of the findings from the report includes:
The data indicates that the NPA communities have an exceedingly high burden of the common STI, even when compared with other areas of high prevalence
The data also makes clear that there has been NO improvement in STI prevalence in NPA communities over the last decade (except in the case of syphilis) (Dr P. Fagan. CPHU)
This information further highlights the need for action.
The Youth and Relationships Network (YARN) group have been working to reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases amongst the N.P.A. communities for several years. This group is coordinated through NPA Family and Community Services Sexual Health Staff and supported by Cairns Public Health Unit. The working group includes staff from local health and community services and also local community members. Numerous strategies have been implemented over the years including: delivering of Human Relations Education in local schools, sexual health education to Youth clubs/camps, community education and social marketing promoting the use of condoms through the Condoman campaign. Despite these efforts the incidence remains high.
The next strategy to be implemented to address these issues will be the introduction of condom dispensers within all the N.P.A. communities which will provide 24 hour access to free condoms. The sites have been specifically chosen to ensure privacy, safety and appropriateness and will be checked and restocked by members of the Sexual Health Team. This strategy is also supported through the YARN group and Cairns Public Health Unit.
To date, condom dispensers have been installed in Seisia at the RTC building and at the New Mapoon Youth Centre toilets, further installations within the other communities will occur in the near future.