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Med J Aust. 2008 Feb 4;188(3):182-4.

"Let's not talk about sex": reconsidering the public health approach to sexually transmissible infections in remote Indigenous populations in Australia.

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Academic Unit of Internal Medicine, Australian National University Medical School, Canberra, ACT, Australia.


Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) are hyperendemic in some remote Indigenous populations in Australia. Screening programs have had some success in reducing the prevalence of STIs in specific populations, but there has been little overall improvement in the past 10 years. We question the usefulness of current practice and urge consideration of a new and radical approach. Instead of a "screen, treat and contact trace" strategy, we suggest adopting the same approach as currently accepted for trachoma control: populations reaching a threshold prevalence for a set of marker STIs (identified through sentinel surveillance) should be offered a treatment program aimed at the entire sexually active population. We also recommend a parallel program of health promotion and "life skills" education and outline the arguments for such a departure from currently accepted public health policy.

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