Young Travelers in Australia At Risk of HIV, Other STIs Because of Drinking Habits, Specialists Report
Young travelers in Australia who engage in binge drinking and unsafe sexual activity are contributing to increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, according to specialists, the Herald Sun reports (McLean, Herald Sun, 11/19). According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the rise in STIs has prompted the New South Wales' Department of Health, four Sydney councils and the NSW Backpackers Operators Association to target the group with no-cost condoms and safer-sex messages over the summer holiday period (Wallace, Sydney Morning Herald, 11/19).
Lynne Wray, acting director of the Sydney Sexual Health Centre, said the trend is consistent with recent research showing that backpackers are more likely to report drinking alcohol to excess and not using condoms, thus increasing their risk of contracting an STI. Wray said that the "number of heterosexual backpackers coming to the clinic with new" STIs "is of great concern" and that a "small proportion of these also have HIV infections that they acquired in other countries on the way to Australia." She added that the trend revealed that basic safer-sex messages have not been effective and that it "is important for people to pack condoms while traveling and remember that many countries popular with backpackers have higher rates of HIV and STIs than Australia" (Herald Sun, 11/19).