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“Let's not talk about sex”: reconsidering the public health approach to sexually transmissible infections in remote Indigenous populations in Australia

Bryan G Walpole
Med J Aust 2008; 188 (10): 621.
Published online: 19 May 2008

To the Editor: With their radical population-based approach, Bowden and Fethers1 bring a refreshing perspective to the management of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) in Indigenous communities — normally a taboo subject with those at risk and their families.

I recently participated in the federal government’s Northern Territory Emergency Response, and was told, both centrally and locally, that looking for STIs was off limits, as it might destroy the trust of Aboriginal communities. This meant that I could neither enquire about nor examine children or adolescents below the umbilicus. I noted that most teenage girls had contraceptive implants (a good public health measure), but no STI prophylaxis. I think this is a failure of the Response.

  • Bryan G Walpole

  • Emergency Medicine, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS.

Correspondence: bwalpole@tassie.net.au

  • 1. Bowden FJ, Fethers K. “Let’s not talk about sex”: reconsidering the public health approach to sexually transmissible infections in remote Indigenous populations in Australia. Med J Aust 2008; 188: 182-184. <MJA full text>

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