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21 October 2014

Mary G sexual health campaign targets Aboriginal young people in the Goldfields and Pilbara

WA Health aims to increase Aboriginal sexual health testing in regional areas through a radio and social media campaign featuring comedian Mary G.

The Goldfields and Pilbara will be targetted in the campaign, which was first run earlier this year.

Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program Manager, Lisa Bastian, said the Aboriginal comedian used humour to tackle what could be a sensitive topic.

"Feedback from the first round of our campaign in May showed Mary G engaged with young people and their communities about sexual health issues in a culturally appropriate and appealing way," Ms Bastian said.

"We believe that using humour can help break down feelings of shame and embarrassment that people can experience when talking about sexual health issues and we hope the campaign will help health providers broach the question of safe sex and STI testing with Aboriginal young people.

"It was encouraging that young people found the campaign easy to understand and funny, and health providers from across the State also agreed the campaign was well received."

Current national health guidelines recommend that all sexually active young people be tested for chlamydia annually. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, this would lead to testing rates of around 734 per 1000 in 15-24 year olds, however in the Pilbara and Goldfields regions, current rates are only around 92 and 116 respectively.

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection (STI) in Western Australia, with 11,669 notifications recorded between July 2013 and June 2014; nearly 14 per cent of these were Aboriginal and 59 per cent were in the 16-24 year old age group.

Media contact: 9222 4333

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