STIs, BBVs & Sexual Health

Sexually transmissible infections (STIs) are infections spread from one person to another by close body contact (often sexual) or the exchange of bodily fluids. Blood Born Viruses (BBVs) are viral infections transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, and can sometimes be transmitted through other bodily fluids. The Scarlet Alliance STI Handbook: A Reference Guide for Sex Workers to Sexually Transmissible Infection (also referred to as the Red Book) is a resource on BBVs and STIs that was formerly published in print in 1998. This resource is written by sex workers, for sex workers. It contains information specific to sex work. In recognition of the diversity of the sex worker community, including gender diversity, language and terminology is gender neutral. The Red Book is no longer published in print, but is available online here.

Below are factsheets and information on common STIs, BBVs and other common sexual health related matters produced by the Victorian Sexual Health Network and the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre. Some translated versions of the factsheets are also included below.

And … if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you will be able to view the “RhED Taking Care of your Sexual Health At Work”.

This workshop can be delivered to you one to one, in groups and in brothel settings. For further information email sexworker@sexworker.org.au or phone 1800 458 752.

Bacterial Vaginosis

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Balanitis

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Balanitis is inflammation of the glans or head of the penis. Symptoms include; pain, redness, itchiness and sometimes a discharge from under the foreskin.

Chlamydia

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A very common bacterial STI affecting all genders. Many people do not notice any symptoms. Symptoms may include stinging or burning when passing urine, discharge from penis (often clear), redness at opening of penis, change in vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, including pain during sex, irregular bleeding (especially after sex).

Emergency Contraception

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Emergency contraception effectively reduces the risk of pregnancy following unprotected sex.  It must be taken within 5 days of unprotected sex although is more effective if taken as early as possible.

Genital skin care

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Genital skin is very sensitive. Many genital skin irritations are not caused by STIs. 3 key facts for good genital skin care:

  • Avoid irritants
  • Keep dry
  • Don’t scratch or rub

Genital Warts & HPV | Anal Cancer

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Gonorrhoea

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Gonorrhoea (also referred to as ‘gono’) is a common STI caused by bacteria and can be passed on during sex without a condom. Many people do not notice symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Discharge from the penis, vagina or anus. 
  • Stinging or burning when passing urine
  • Sore, dry throat

Hepatitis A | Hepatitis B | Hepatitis C

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Many people do not notice symptoms. Symptoms may include :

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Right sided pain under the ribs 
  • Fever
  • Dark urine 
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)

Herpes

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Many people do not notice any symptoms as you can have this virus and not have herpes lesions or sores. Symptoms may include blisters or sores on and around the genitals and buttocks.

HIV

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the immune system which makes it difficult for the body to fight infections. HIV can be passed on through the bodily fluids (such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid and anal fluid) of a person who has HIV with a detectable viral load, usually by having sex without a condom or sharing injecting equipment. Many people do not notice any symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • a flu-like illness
  • swollen lymph nodes 
  • skin rash.

Important information about early detection of HIV for gay men and other men who have sex with men: F+RST video LINK

HIV Antibody Test- Indeterminate Result

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Occasionally, a result is neither positive nor negative. This is what we call an indeterminate HIV result.

Lichen Sclerosus

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Skin inflammation involving the external genital skin. Symptoms may include: 

  • Genital itch
  • Burning and soreness of the genital skin

LGV

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A bacterial infection caused by certain strains of chlamydia.  Symptoms may include: 

  • Anal pain and discharge. 
  • Pimple, blister or ulcer on the genitals. 
  • Inflammation of the groin lymph nodes.

Molluscum Contagiosum

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Mycoplasma Genitalium

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A bacterium that infects the urethra, cervix and anus. Many people do not notice symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Inflammation of the urethra (the urine passage) | Stinging/ burning when passing urine
  • Discharge from the penis | An abnormal vaginal discharge.
  • Pain in the pelvic area and pain during sexual intercourse. 
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding.

 

Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

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Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a HIV medication which is taken within 72 hours of possible exposure to HIV infection and is taken for 28 days.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

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Inflammation or infection of the reproductive system in the pelvis. Symptoms may include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge 
  • Unusual bleeding 
  • Pelvic or lower abdominal pain 
  • Pain with sex 
  • Increased period pain

PrEP

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PrEP is medication used to prevent HIV. This is done by taking a pill every day, called Truvada®, that contains two HIV medications. These are the same medicines used to stop the virus from growing in people who are already infected.

Pubic Lice

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Small parasites that infest the pubic hair, armpits or chest hair. Symptoms may include itching in the affected area.

Scabies

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An infestation of the skin by a tiny eight-legged mite.  Symptoms may include itching in the affected area caused by the scabies mites.

Sexual Health For Gay Men and Men who have Sex with Men

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STI and screening information for gay and other men who have sex with men.

Sex workers Sexual Health

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Sex workers are required by law to have 3 monthly screening for STIs.

Syphilis

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A bacterial STI. Some people may not notice symptoms. It is important to treat syphilis to avoid complications. Symptoms may include:

  • Ulcer-like sore or rash
  • Fever
  • Swelling of glands in groin and armpits
  • Hair loss
  • General tiredness 

Trichomoniasis

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A genital infection caused by the organism Trichomonas vaginalis. Some people do not experience any symptoms. Symptoms may include: 

  • frothy yellow-green vaginal discharge, 
  • unpleasant vaginal odour
  • vaginal itching and burning

Thrush

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Caused by an overgrowth of yeasts within the vagina.  Symptoms may include: 

  • Itch and discomfort around the opening of the vagina
  • Burning sensation and pain with urinating and sex
  • Thick, white, lumpy discharge
  • Inflammation of the vulva

Urethritis

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Inflammation of the urethra (the urine passage). Some people do not experience any symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Discomfort in passing urine
  • Discharge from the urethra

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

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Inflammation of the urethra (the urine passage). Some people do not experience any symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • the need to pass urine frequently, 
  • feeling the bladder is still full after urinating 
  • burning sensation during urination
  • smelly urine and/ or blood in urine

Vulval Pain (Vulvodynia)

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Pain at or around the vaginal opening occurring in the absence of an obvious ongoing cause.

 

RhED: Taking Care of Your

Sexual Health at Work

For more information on taking care of your sexual health at work and recognising STIs, see our 2021 presentation below!

 

Sexual Health Services and STI Testing

The following are a list of places where you can access sexual health services and STI clinics.  Please note that RhED does not endorse the below services, however these places have been assessed by sex workers to be sex worker-allied services.  For a full list of sexual health/STI services as well as GP clinics where you can also access sex-worker friendly sexual health services and STI testing, please contact RhED on:

MELBOURNE

 

Family Planning Victoria
Action Centre Level 1,
94 Elizabeth St.
Melbourne 3000
T: 9660 4700 | 1800 013 952

 

Family Planning Victoria
901 Whitehorse Rd
Box Hill 3128
T: 9257 0100 | 1800 013 952 

 

Frankston Hospital
Sexual & Reproductive Health
(Women’s Services)
2 Hastings Road Frankston 3199
T: 1300 665 781                            

 

Melbourne Sexual Health Centre
580 Swanston Street
Carlton 3053
T: 9347 0244 | 1800 032 017

 

Royal Woman’s Hospital
132 Grattan Street
Carlton 3053
T: 9344 2000

 

Royal Melbourne Hospital
Infectious Diseases Services
Grattan Street
Parkville 3052
T: 9342 7000

 

Thorne Harbour Health:
The Centre Clinic
77 Fitzroy St
St Kilda 3182
T: 9525 5866

 

Thorne Harbour Health:
EQUINOX Gender Diverse Health Service & PRONTO!           
200 Hoddle St                                     
Abbotsford VIC 3067
T: 9416 2889

REGIONAL VICTORIA

Ballarat Community Health Sexual Health Clinic
12 Lilburne Street
Lucas Victoria 3350
T: 5838 4500

Bendigo Community Health Sexual Health Clinic
3 Seymoure Street
Eaglehawk 3556
T: 5446 8800

165-171 Hargreaves Street
Bendigo 3552
T: 5406 1200

Barwon Reproductive and Sexual Health Clinic
Outpatients Annexe,
Corner Bellerine and Lt Ryrie streets
Geelong 3220
T: 04 6637 6158 (Tuesday 12:00pm – 5:00pm)

Hastings Community Health  
Sexual & Reproductive Health
(Women’s Services)
185 High Street Hastings 3915
T: 1300 665 781

Ontario Medical Clinic
196-200 Ontario Ave
Mildura 3500
T: 5023 7311

Rosebud Community Health
Sexual & Reproductive Health
(Women’s Services)
38 Braidwood Ave
Capel Sound 3940
T: 1300 665 781

Albury Sexual Health Service Clinic 72
596 Smollett St
Albury 2640
T: (02) 6058 1831

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