Delivering a Healthy WA
Disease WAtch

Backpackers urged to play it safe

WA Health has launched a new safe sex campaign, aimed specifically at backpackers.

The Backpackers Sexual Health Project will encourage young travellers to:
practise safe sex and get tested for STIs if they have unprotected sex.

The campaign follows a recent study that found nearly three-quarters of backpackers had sex during their stay in Australia.1 Many also reported inconsistent condom use and unprotected sex with multiple partners. These behaviours, as well as heavy alcohol consumption and illicit drug use, are associated with a higher risk of sexually transmitted infection (STI) among backpackers. 1

The campaign's new poster: "Could I be getting more than I came for?"

The Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program (SHBBVP) has established a reference group, consisting of youth-travel industry representatives, to ensure these public health messages are promoted effectively to backpackers.

In May an additional webpage was added to WA Health’s chlamydia campaign, Could I Have It. The new webpage contains specific information for backpackers regarding risk and where they can access testing. It also includes specific information for backpackers with health or travel insurance and for those without any insurance. The Online Chlamydia Self-Risk Assessment has also been updated to include a question about travel status. This will enable the number of travellers using the online service to be captured.

From now until September promotional posters and condom packs will be distributed to backpacker hostels and appropriate hotels across Western Australia. In addition, three popular hostels (two in Perth and one in Margaret River) have been provided with condom vending machines to ensure sustained provision of condoms to backpackers.

To assess the impact of the promotional campaign, website statistics are being collected and will include the numbers of unique page visitors and pathology requests downloaded by travellers. The B2 Sexual Health Clinic at Fremantle Hospital is also collecting data on traveller status for all positive notifications resulting from the online self-risk assessment.

For more information visit the "Could I Have It" (external site) website.

Reference

1. Hughes K, Downing J, Bellis MA, Dillon P, Copeland J. The sexual behaviour of British backpackers in Australia. Sex Transm Infect 2009;85:477-482.

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