Improve Local Access
For rural young people, issues of privacy, lack of transport and cost are some of the barriers that prevent them from accessing condoms and STI testing and treatment. Below are some of the strategies CERSH recommends for improving access in rural areas.
Access to Condoms
Condoms are the best form of prevention for sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and can also prevent unintended pregnancy.
Condom vending machines are practical, cheap and effective, particularly for young people wanting affordable and anonymous access to condoms. However, in many rural areas condom vending machines are located in venues not accessible to young people (ie. pubs, clubs).
Condom dispensers are a low-cost option that are suitable for settings such as youth centres, health services and education settings.
CERSH has been working with local councils, across the Hume and Loddon Mallee regions, to advocate for, and assist in, the installation of condom vending machines in locations where young people can access them (ie. public bathrooms that are open 24 hours).
If your local area has limited access to condoms for young people, get in touch with CERSH to see how we might be able to help.
Access to STI Testing
For young people where access to a clinic that offers sexual health testing is limited, there is a free and confidential service called TESTme offered by Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (MSHC).
TESTme has been developed by staff at MSHC in response to the increasing STI rates in Victoria and the difficulty some people have accessing sexual health services in regional/rural Victoria. Research shows people living in rural Victoria have lower rates of STI testing than people who live in Melbourne.
TESTme is offered to rural Victorians aged 25 years and younger, rural Victorian men who have sex with men and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The online service offers a free testing kit to be sent out with discrete packaging, clear instructions and everything needed to take the simple test.
If a result is positive, a nurse will call with information and in most cases, can post the treatment, making a visit to the doctor unnecessary.