YEP Crew Blog Post – Habiba Asim: STIs & BBVs…and our Aboriginal community?

Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and blood borne viruses (BBV’s) are all present throughout the Australian population.  STI’s are transmitted through unprotected sex with an affected partner.  BBV’s are viruses carried in the blood, which can also be transmitted from one person to another.  STI’s and BBV’s can affect the mental, physical and emotional health of an individual.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3% of the Australian population.  However, statistically they are at greater risk of having a STI or BBV in comparison to non-indigenous Australians.  Young indigenous adults living in remote areas are most likely to have a STI or BBV.   Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are at a greater risk due to implications of STI’s and BBV’s, which commonly have an effect on pregnancy.

Why is it that our indigenous populations are constantly lacking in their quality of health, specifically those living in remote areas?

The average life expectancy for indigenous populations is 10.5 years less than non-indigenous Australians, with females living longer than males.  Statistically indigenous groups continuously are positioned at a disadvantage.  Helping to reduce STI’s and BBV’s in indigenous populations would help increase the life expectancy and quality of life for indigenous Australia.

Currently, there are a number of programs aiming to educate and improve the sexual health of indigenous populations.  With the help of these programs the prevalence of BBV’s and STI’s have decreased, however the occurrence of STI’s and BBV’s in indigenous populations still remains to be greater than other groups of Australians.  Australia must find the underlying issues, which are contributing to higher rates of prevalence of BBV’s and STI’s and help to eliminate or reduce their effects.

I believe that there are numerous factors, which contribute to the disadvantaged health of indigenous populations.  It is vital for Australia to identify the underlying factors and help minimize their effects.  There urgently needs to be a call for action, not only from Indigenous Australia but also from non-indigenous populations, making them aware of the gap in quality of health.

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