Queensland, AU -- North Queenslanders are contracting sexual diseases at a far higher rate than their city cousins. But it's not necessarily the fault of locals enjoying carnal relations in the canefields.
Health officials say backpackers are part of the reason the north accounted for nearly half of the notifications of gonorrhoea and syphilis and a quarter of chlamydia cases reported last year. Across Queensland in 2005, there were 9726 cases of chlamydia, 1443 of gonorrhoea and 135 of syphilis. North Queensland accounted for 2529 cases of chlamydia, 632 of gonorrhoea and 63 of syphilis. Rate of chlamydia infection have increased over the past five years, but gonorrhoea and syphilis have dropped in the north.
Cairns Base Hospital director of sexual health Darren Russell said the large number of backpackers visiting the north was part of the reason for the high infection rate. Dr. Russell said: "We need more doctors, nurses, health workers, and educators to go out to communities and spread the message and arrange for testing and treatment."
French-Canadian backpackers Marie and Karine said they were aware of the dangers. "Herpes seems to be a real problem in Australia," said Karine. "You can kiss someone in a nightclub and get it very easily." Both women, who recently arrived in Townsville from Airlie Beach, said they would never put themselves at risk from STD.
The Courier Mail