Sexually transmissible infections (STIs)

Aesen Thambiran, Mitchell Smith, Vanessa Clifford
(For other STIs – HIV, HBV, HCV).


  • A sexual health history should be completed sensitively, with awareness of gender issues, and with reassurance and careful explanations.
  • Offer an STI screen to people with a risk factor for acquiring an STI or on request (see text). Universal post-arrival screening for STIs for people from refugee-like backgrounds is not supported by current available evidence.
    • Syphilis serology should be offered to unaccompanied and separated children <15 years.
    • Children <15 years should be offered screening for other STIs including HIV and syphilis if there are clinical concerns (see text for details).
  • A complete STI screen includes a self-collected swab or first pass urine Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) and consideration of throat and rectal swabs for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, and serology for syphilis, HIV and hepatitis B.
  • Asymptomatic patients with positive syphilis serology should be treated, unless there is documented prior treatment of treponemal infection. Treat syphilis with parenteral penicillin in consultation with a sexual health or ID unit.
  • Specimens for Neisseria gonorrhoea microscopy and culture should be taken before treatment is instituted. Treat gonorrhoea with ceftriaxone 500mg in 2mL of 1% lignocaine IMI, plus azithromycin 1g orally.76 Repeat NAAT and culture for test of cure of gonorrhoea two weeks after treatment.
  • Treat chlamydia with azithromycin 1g orally as a single dose, or, alternatively, doxycycline 100mg orally 12 hourly for 7 days.76
  • Treat anorectal chlamydia with doxycycline 100mg orally 12 hourly for 7 days or azithromycin 1g orally as a single dose with a repeat dose a week later.205
  • Offer women a pregnancy test and contraception, as appropriate (see Women’s Health).
  • An STI screen provides an opportunity for education about safer sex and condom use.

* Chlamydia testing is consistent with the current National STI Strategy206 and Australasian Sexual Health Alliance (ASHA) guidelines.205

Produced by

in consultation with

                  Refugee Health Network of Australia

Endorsed by

Funded by

The Australian Refugee Health Practice Guide was produced with funds from the Australian Government Department of Health.


The information set out in the Australian Refugee Health Practice Guide (“the Guide”) is current at the date of first publication and is intended for use as a guide of a general nature only and may or may not be relevant to particular patients or circumstances. Nor is the Guide exhaustive of the subject matter. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in the Guide must exercise their own independent skill or judgement or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular circumstances when so doing. The statements or opinions that are expressed in the Guide reflect the views of the contributing authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors or Foundation House. Compliance with any recommendations cannot of itself guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional and the premises from which the health professional operates.

Whilst the information is directed to health professionals possessing appropriate qualifications and skills in ascertaining and discharging their professional (including legal) duties, it is not to be regarded as clinical advice and, in particular, is no substitute for a full examination and consideration of medical history in reaching a diagnosis and treatment based on accepted clinical practices.

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