Raising sexual health awareness

Snake Condoms is working with Indigenous communities this National Close the Gap Day (25 March) to turn around the latest statistics that show rural, remote and young Indigenous populations are at a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections.

The latest report from the National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the University of New South Wales details that Indigenous communities who live in rural and remote areas are being diagnosed with Chlamydia at a rate that is over seven times higher than compared to non-Indigenous populations.

“You only need to look at the geography associated with the statistics to know that the reasons behind the gaps in Indigenous sexual health come down to lack of access to education and condoms, both of which are very limited in rural and remote communities,” said Ms Eileen Kelly, Spokesperson for SNAKE Condoms.

“Additionally, young women aged 15 – 19 years are specifically at risk with rates of Syphilis being 90 times higher than non-Indigenous populations in this group.”

The report also found that Indigenous populations are:
– being diagnosed with Gonorrhoea at a rate that is 36 times more than non-Indigenous populations
– acquiring Hepatitis B at a rate five times higher than non-Indigenous populations

“Close the Gap Day is a great day for Indigenous communities as it gives all of us the opportunity to address these statistics and help young people tackle the issues they are facing.” said Ms Kelly.

The SNAKE project, established in 2004 by Marie Stopes Australia, has in the last two years distributed over 282,000 condoms, trained 60 Aboriginal health workers with the latest sexual health information and established new relationships with 150 Indigenous communities.

In 2010 SNAKE will reach out to even more communities with plans next month to visit both Darwin and the Sunshine Coast.

“To help close these sexual health gaps more Indigenous communities need to protect the future health of their young people as we know that STIs such as Chlamydia have a long-term affect on fertility if left untreated,” Ms Kelly said.

“The gaps that exist within Indigenous health in Australia are confronting. SNAKE Condoms has and will continue to show its long term commitment to remote Indigenous communities and will continue to work with communities until every young Indigenous person receives good sexual health information and condoms.”

For more information about SNAKE Condoms and how your community can protect their young people go to www.snakecondoms.org.au

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