Gympie Youth Service Women’s Health relief locum Shelley Adams and Women’s Health Centre manager Ruth Tidswell with the “pee and post” chlamydia tests.
Gympie Youth Service Women’s Health relief locum Shelley Adams and Women’s Health Centre manager Ruth Tidswell with the “pee and post” chlamydia tests. Renee Pilcher

Hard to find a GP in Gympie

SEXUALLY transmitted infections are on the rise and a lack of services in Gympie may put people at risk.

Gympie Women's Health Centre manager Ruth Tidswell said a sexual health clinic was needed in Gympie.

This week, figures from Queensland Health showed chlamydia was up 228 cases last year, compared to 2006 in the Sunshine Coast Health Service District, which included Gympie.

Gonorrhea had a steady increase over the same period from 30 in 2006 to 60 cases in 2009. But it dropped a little, to 54 in 2011.

With sexual health week under way from Valentine's Day, the importance of using condoms and water-based lubricant to help guard against HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and unplanned pregnancy has been highlighted.

Sunshine Coast Health Service District's director of Sexual Health and HIV Services, Dr Kuong Taing, said Queensland health encouraged regular sexual health check-ups and aimed to remove the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections and promoted condom use.

"Notifications of sexually transmissible infections, including gonorrhea and chlamydia, are increasing in Queensland," he said.

"A chlamydia or gonorrhea infection can have serious,lifelong consequences including infertility in both men and women.

"Often there are no symptoms or warning signs, so people don't even realise they have it, which means it can easily be passed on to sexual partners. Having an STI increases the risk of catching HIV. Early detection of STIs will lead to early treatment and prevent major health complications."

Dr Taing said arranging a sexual health check through a GP or local sexual health clinic might be the only way to be sure a person was not infected, and was especially important when entering a new relationship.

But Ms Tidswell said it could be hard for people to access a GP in Gympie.

She said some practices were not taking on new patients and there were few that bulk-billed, making it harder for people to access information and testing for sexually transmitted diseases or infections.

In Gympie, the Women's Health Centre and Youth Service, along with the Indigenous Health Service and Gympie Hospital are part of a sexual inter-agency network.

The Women's Health Centre had some free "pee and post" packs, part of a Queensland Health program to help more people access chlamydia testing. Visit health.qld.gov.au/chlamydia or call 1800 895 544 for a pack.

And the youth centre started a pilot program with the packs. Young people (15-25) could access them bi-monthly - phone 54852 6188.

Clinic 87 is a free sexual health/ HIV service based in Nambour, phone 5470 5244.

Gympie Times


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