Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are reaching epidemic levels in Australia, as more and more couples are having unsafe sex, according to new figures.
The figures released by the University of NSW’s Kirby Institute warned that the country is in the grip of gonorrhoea and chlamydia epidemic with a surge in cases in the past year, News.com.au reported.
Newly diagnosed cases of chlamydia leapt 17 per cent to 74,305 in 2010, while those for gonorrhoea rose 25 per cent to just over 10,000.
Chlamydia and gonorrhoea can affect women and men who have sex with an infected partner.
Both STIs are treatable with antibiotics, but they can be hard to diagnose because infected people often show no symptoms.
If left untreated in women the infections can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is the main cause of infertility.
The institute’s Associate Professor David Wilson said the rise in gonorrhoea and chlamydia cases was partly due to more people being tested in response to public education campaigns.
“However, what we are seeing right now is the rate of diagnosis is surpassing the rate of testing so that indicates there’s an increase in overall infection levels. So there’s an epidemic,” he said.
“Almost 75,000 people were diagnosed with chlamydia last year. That’s phenomenal. That’s more than any other country,” Wilson added.
He attributed the rise in the number of STIs cases to men failing to practice safe sex by using condoms.
Young heterosexual people were the most likely to be infected with chlamydia, the most common STI in Australia, while men who have sex with men were the most likely to have gonorrhoea.