REVEALED: The STDs on the rise on Sunshine Coast
SEXUALLY transmitted diseases are on the rise on the Sunshine Coast and Gympie with the number of diagnosed cases of gonorrhoea more than doubling in the last five years.
The number of gonorrhoea diagnoses in the region rose from 55 in 2012 to 127 last year, a 130% increase.
Chlamydia diagnoses have also jumped in the same period, rising from 998 five years ago to 1405 last year, a 40% increase.
But despite the increases, the Sunshine Coast and Gympie are comparatively "clean" places to have sex and it could be thanks to the area's ageing population.
Queensland Health has pointed out that there were increases in notifications of the two STDs elsewhere in south-east Queensland and the rate of infection on the Sunshine Coast and Gympie was comparatively low.
Doctor Andrew Langley, a public health physician with the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, said the rates of notification for gonorrhoea and chlamydia were below that of Queensland overall.
Dr Langley said there were 361 diagnoses of chlamydia for every 100,000 people on the Coast and in Gympie, compared to 473 per 100,000 for Queensland, and there were 33 notifications of gonorrhoea for every 100,000 people on the Coast compared to 84 per 100,000 for the state as a whole.
"The lower notification rates in SCHHS may in part be related to SCHHS having a relatively old population- a smaller percentage of our population (16%) compared to Queensland's (21%) is in the 15-29 years age group which commonly has the highest occurrence of chlamydia and gonorrhoea," he said.
Dr Langley said the increase in notifications could be due to more and better testing.
"Some of the increases may be related to more sensitive testing being used more often," he said.
"Increased 'duplex' testing, where gonorrhoea is routinely tested for when chlamydia is requested, and vice versa, may also be a contributing factor.
"There has also been in increase in screening activity by SCHHS's Sexual Health and HIV service.
Dr Langley said both diseases could be prevented by practising safe sex with all sexual partners for all types of sex, and by avoiding sexual contact if one or other participant had anorectal discharge or irritation.
He warned that people infected with gonorrhoea and chlamydia did not always show symptoms.
Gonorrhoea is a serious infection of the genital tract which can occur in both men and women and has symptoms including joint pain, conjunctivitis, discharge from the penis or vagina, bleeding between periods, fever and pain on intercourse.
Chlamydia is an infection which can occur in the the urethra, cervix, anus or throat and can spread to a woman's uterus and fallopian tubes, causing problems with fertility, and can also be spread to the eyes and lungs. Symptoms in men can be a discharge from the penis, discomfort at the top of the penis, pain upon passing urine, and swollen or sore testes.
Women with chlamydia man notice a change in vaginal discharge, cramp-like pain in the lower abdomen, menstrual changes, pain when passing urine, bleeding or spotting between periods, and pain during or after sex.
Both diseases are treated with antibiotics.