What you can do as a GP during Youth Week

Chlamydia is the most common notifiable STI in NSW. With the majority of notifications being among young people aged 15-25 years, Youth Week (31 March to 9 April) is a great time for GPs and practice nurses to encourage STI testing.

The most common symptom of an STI is not having any symptoms at all! Meaning that anyone with a sexual history can have an STI. This is why it’s really important for young people to use condoms and get tested for STIs regularly.

During Youth Week, youth organisations and sexual health services will be promoting these two messages, and informing young people that the best place to get tested is at their local, youth friendly GP.

It can be really difficult to encourage young people to test! Many young people find it overwhelming and are unsure how to ask their doctor about getting an STI test. GPs can help by offering an STI test as part of their appointment/check-up. Offering STI testing and asking the simple question not only reduces the stigma around STIs and sexual health, but also has the potential to reach young people who may be at risk of an STI.

Other barriers that prevent young people from visiting a GP and getting an STI test include financial issues, lack of knowledge of available services, and perceived confidentiality. Informing young people under 18 years of age that they have the right to confidential health care and can see a GP without a parent or guardian present can increase the number of young people looking after their sexual health and asking for an STI test.

For more information on how you can encourage and engage young people around sexual health visit NSW Health’s Play Safe website, or contact the South Eastern Sydney HIV and Related Programs (HARP) Unit, Sarah Smith or Elissa Magner.