- Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhoea diagnoses in Australia are highest amongst people aged 15-24 years.
- Most young people attend a general practice at least once a year and are often unaware of their risk of infection and that STIs are often asymptomatic. The 8th edition of the RACGP Guidelines for Preventive Activities in General Practice recommends annual testing for chlamydia infection in all sexually active people aged 15-29 years (for both sexes). Currently, chlamydia is detected in approximately 1 in 20 young Australians who have screening tests in general practice
- Negotiating to see all young people alone, discussing confidentiality, minimising costs and routinely offering STI screening (using self-collected samples, when appropriate) to all young people can help overcome barriers to STI testing
- Providing care to adolescents, particularly younger adolescents, may involve a complete psychosocial (“HEADSS”) risk assessment, and an assessment of the young person’s capacity for decision-making and consent whilst being aware of child protection issues and mandatory reporting requirements.
- Opportunistically offer chlamydia screening to all young people at least annually.
- Testing for chlamydia, hepatitis B, syphilis and HIV is recommended, as per the Standard Asymptomatic Check-up Guideline.
- Confirm hepatitis B status and vaccinate if not immune.
Clinical indicators for testing
- Testing for other infections and more frequent testing should be considered based on local STI prevalence, symptoms, clinical findings, diagnosis with an STI, contact with someone with a diagnosed or suspected STI and risk assessment (including specific sexual behaviour and condom use).
- It is not recommended to routinely test for herpes and genital warts with serology. Consider testing for herpes and genital warts only if there are clinical signs and symptoms.
Cervical screening and STI tests
An endocervical swab for Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) may be collected at the time of cervical screening. Currently in Australia, cervical screening is not recommended until a young woman has turned 18 years old or 2 years after first intercourse, whichever is later.
Ask the young person about the best way to contact them with test results and reminders. From the age of 15 years, young people can apply for their own Medicare card.Consent
- Young people under 18 years may be capable of giving consent to treatment provided they have sufficient understanding of the nature and effect of the treatment. There is specific legislation in New South Wales and South Australia that relates to the medical treatment of children and minors and common law applies in other jurisdictions.
- See the Adolescent Health GP Resource Kit, 2nd Edition for more information.
- Requirements for mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse vary between jurisdictions. Contact the relevant department to clarify requirements in your state or territory.
- Reporting abuse and neglect: State and territory departments responsible for protecting children
- Age of consent laws
- Australian legal definitions: When is a child in need of protection?
If test results are positive, refer to relevant STI management section:
- Educate about negotiating safe sex, how to use condoms and risk minimisation. When appropriate, address contraception needs
- Vaccinate for hepatitus A, hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV), if susceptible
- Offer reminders for regular screening tests e.g. annual chlamydia test.
- 90% of young people attending the practice are tested according to these guidelines.
- 100% of young people tested have hepatitis B and human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination status recorded.