Sexual health trial
by Juliana Doupe 20 March 2014
There are high rates of gonorrhoea and chlamydia in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Both these conditions are wholly preventable but left untreated can impact on people’s quality of life and fertility. Chlamydia has few symptoms but can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the tube) and infertility in women; gonorrhoea is painful and can cause infertility in men, and blocked ovaries, ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women.
elinda Hengel (pictured) a Kirby Institute UNSW researcher based at Apunipima Cape York Health Council in Cairns, is part of a team trialling a new device for the detection and treatment of gonorrhoea and chlamydia, with the potential to reduce infection treatment times from two to three weeks to one day. The study is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded trial called Test Treat and Go (TTANGO) which has been underway for nine months across remote Australia. Belinda has been awarded a UNSW scholarship to present on TTANGO at the prestigious Centre for Disease Control Annual Conference in Atlanta, USA in June 2014. Apunipima’s Senior Medical Officer Dr Jacki Mein said the conference was one of the world’s premiere public health events. ‘This is a world class infectious disease epidemiology and public health conference. The TTANGO trial has the potential to speed up treatment for infections from two to three weeks to one day which has huge implications for the public health of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities
which have high rates gonorrhoea and chlamydia. We are proud to be involved in trialling potential advances in best practice care in this area.’ Belinda said TTANGO has the potential to help people in Australia and overseas. ‘Sexual health is a national concern – TTANGO research has been presented at the Australasian Sexual Health Conference in Darwin, the Deadly Sex Conference in Queensland and is due to be presented at the Sexual Health and Blood-Borne Virus Applied Research and Evaluation Network (SiREN) Conference in Western
Australia in April. ‘Having our paper accepted by the conference organisers shows we’re doing important work; work that has positive health implications for remote Australian communities and potentially international ones as well. ‘Shorter treatment times mean reduced rates of transmission and reduced rates of health complications, such as infertility, which can occur when these kinds of conditions are left untreated. Overall, we want to increase reproductive health across remote Australia.’