Watch out this summer for the return of the successful CaddyShack mobile Chlamydia screening program, a partnership program to improve the sexual health and well-being of young people in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven. Coordinated by Healthy Cities Illawarra, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Sexual Health Service, the HIV & Related Programs Unit ISLHD and local youth services, the youth focused program is going on a ‘Summer Tour’ visiting beaches and parks down the Illawarra and Shoalhaven coast.
The program aims to raise awareness of sexual health, and offer free screening for Chlamydia – a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that’s on the rise in young people. There were over 82 000 notifications of Chlamydia infection in Australia in 2012, which David Wilson from the Kirby Institute suggests is just the tip of the iceberg. “It is likely there are 5 times as many more Australians with undiagnosed Chlamydia, who may be at increased risk of infertility and other reproductive health problems. We estimate that as many as one in 20 young Australians between the ages of 15 and 24 have Chlamydia.”
Chlamydia is a bacterial STI that often has no symptoms, so the only way to know for sure if you have it is to get a check up. The success of the CaddyShack program is due to being placed where young people hang out, rather than young people having to go to the GP or sexual health clinic, and lets young people know it’s easy to test for and easy to treat.
The CaddyShack Summer Tour dates are North Wollongong Beach on 13th December and Thirroul beach on the 10th January.
Emily Messieh from the Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre Youth Project said “The CaddyShack program is such a cool and engaging activity to normailise STIs for young people, and get rid of the shame and secrecy around them. The Summer Tour will help get the message to young people across the area to look after themselves and their partners, and get themselves checked!”
[contact]Healthy Cities Illawarra[/contact]