Incoming mail: you've got chlamydia

23/02/2009

Sexual health experts are stressing the importance of partner notification following the release of figures which show chlamydia as the most notified sexually transmissible infection (STI) in Australia.

Surveillance data collected by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing reveal 58,400 notifications of chlamydia were recorded last year, almost double five years ago. Around 80 per cent of cases reported occurred in people aged 15-29.

With rates of chlamydia increasing to unprecedented levels, experts are waging war on partner notification strategies with the introduction of a new online tool.

A new website, www.letthemknow.org.au developed by Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, which is part of The Alfred, has been launched as novel tactic to encourage people to notify previous sexual partners who may be at risk.

The site contains examples of conversations, letters, emails and text messages. Personalised or anonymous emails and text messages can be sent directly from the site. 

Director of Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Professor Christopher Fairley said the website will assist greatly in promoting partner notification, by offering a range of options for contacting partners.

"While almost all people diagnosed with chlamydia believe it is important to contact their partners, many feel nervous, embarrassed and even frightened about doing so."

"Technology, such as text messages and email offer considerable potential as an alternative to traditional methods for partner notification," Christopher said.

If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to serious complications of the reproductive organs that may lead to infertility.