More than 500 music lovers took up the opportunity to get checked for chlamydia for free at Hunter New England Health’s first STI testing at a music festival.
The ‘Down to Test’ campaign took place at Saturday’s inaugural Grapevine Gathering at Roche Estate, where attendees enjoyed the likes of The Wombats, Tkay Maidza and Client Liaison.
Participants volunteered a urine sample and in exchange, gained access to a VIP area which contained clean toilets, phone chargers and a “glitter bar” to get festival-ready.
The test was confidential and took roughly five minutes. The results will be sent out within a week, via text if it’s negative or phone call if they test positive. Those who receive a positive result will be provided with information on how to obtain treatment.
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The idea of the campaign was to target people aged 15-29, as about one in 20 Australians in that age bracket have the disease and another one in 20 catch it each year.
Chlamydia is also the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) among young people.
But Hunter New England Sexual Health Services director Nathan Ryder said it was also about “normalising” STI checks.
“By doing it at a festival, it promotes it as a normal part of maintaining sexual health,” he said.
“It’s a really easy way to perform testing.
“This is something people can talk about. It’s not something they should be ashamed of.”
And judging by the uptake, many weren’t ashamed.
“It was extremely popular and successful,” Dr Ryder said. “The response was better than what we were expecting.”
It is important to be tested regularly, Dr Ryder said, as those infected with chlamydia may not have symptoms. The disease can lead to infertility and other complications if not treated.
Dr Ryder conceded that access to the glitter bar “was a real draw card” to take part in the test, but said many participants were just interested in their sexual health.
“The people who came through were really engaged, asking questions about where they can get tested,” he said.
“We’re hoping people mention it to their friends and continue to get checked.”
Hunter New England Health has not signed up to conduct the campaign at any future festivals, but Dr Ryder said after the success of the Grapevine Gathering, they would definitely like to do it again.
“We’re always looking for appropriate events,” he said.
A spokesperson for Groovin The Moo, which is set to take place at Maitland Showground in April 2019, said the festival was not planning to undertake STI testing in 2019.
Down to Test has previously been run at Splendour in the Grass in Byron Bay and the Yours & Owls Festival in Wollongong. It will be held at Port Macquarie’s Festival Of The Sun later this month.
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