Birth control products. Credit: Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition/Unsplash.

Sexual health

Our approach helps inform education and communication about sexually transmissible infections, and empowers people to have control over their sexual health.

Sexual health is the ability to engage in sexual activity in a way that maximises physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Our research focuses on understanding and optimising sexual health in Australia and within our region.

Our researchers are dedicated to understanding, preventing and curing sexually transmissible infections (STIs). STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are common and can lead to serious complications if left untreated. They are easily cured by antibiotics, but the majority of people who have an STI aren’t aware that they have one, so increasing testing is crucial to drive down STIs. Our researchers work with communities and health systems to find the most effective ways to improve access to testing.

We are also experts in the collection and analysis of health data. In close collaboration with the Australian Government Department of Health and health departments in all states and territories, we produce a series of important surveillance reports on STIs in Australia. These provide the national data on trends in diagnoses, incidence, morbidity, care, testing and prevention and inform health policy and service delivery.

But we don’t just investigate the medical aspects of these infections – we also focus on how people understand and look after their sexual health, including the different ways they have sex. This includes understanding the needs of gender and sexually diverse minorities, the relationship between sex and disability, and areas like sexual coercion, reproductive health, relationships, and human rights. Our holistic approach to sexual health distinguishes the Kirby Institute from other infectious disease institutes. Our approach helps inform education and communication about STIs, and empowers people to have control over their sexual health.


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