Reducing sexual health stigma in Prossie
A PILOT sexual health clinic has been established in Proserpine to target at-risk communities and reduce the stigma around sexual health.
The clinic is the first of its kind in the region and operates fortnightly out of Proserpine Hospital.
Before the pilot clinic, patients would have to make an appointment with their GP or travel to the closest dedicated sexual health clinic in Mackay.
Nurse practitioner at Mackay Sexual Health Clinic, Donna Pini said this created financial barriers for those unable to afford an appointment and difficulties for those without a car.
Ms Pini hoped the new clinic in Proserpine would encourage people living in the area as well as in other rural areas like Bowen and Collinsville to prioritise their sexual health and treat it like getting a regular check-up.
"We really need to encourage (sexual health check-ups) in our community in terms of reducing stigma," she said.
"Just like you go and see your GP to have blood pressure and cholesterol checked, we want to normalise the private and sensitive nature of sexual health.
"We want to encourage it to become second nature so that people will come forward and be more interested in looking after their sexual health."
Ms Pini said sexual health was often underestimated in terms of the long terms risks associated with many sexually transmitted infections.
By reducing the stigma around sexual health and creating an alternate avenue for people to seek help and information, she hoped people from all over the region, especially at-risk communities, would benefit from the service.
"About 75 per cent of people I treat with chlamydia have no symptoms at all, and these infections can have long terms repercussions that are irreversible," she said.
"Women are at risk of scarring of fallopian tubes leading to infertility and men can also be at risk for irreversible issues.
"We all know people in regional areas generally have much greater difficulty accessing health services, and sexual health is one of these.
"Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of an STI and we really encourage them to come forward and have testing."
The clinic is part of a pilot program that is in place until June, after which it will be reassessed to see whether a permanent clinic should be established.
The clinic is free of charge and open to anyone over 14 years of age.
Appointments are required and can be made on 4968 3919.