Shifting narratives and changing the systems for quality STI control in remote Australia

Associate Professor James Ward

Head Infectious Diseases Research Program, Aboriginal Health | South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute


Sexually transmissible infection (STI) control has been an intractable issue in many remote areas particularly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.  Driving this are multiple socio-cultural and systemic issues. All too often however, the issue is apportioned to individual personal behaviours such as promiscuity or sexual abuse. This attribution of behaviours rather than system structure creates a culture ofscapegoating and blame and diverts attention from the leverage points where redesigning the system or government policy can have significant, sustained and beneficial effects on STI control. I will argue that changing the discourse about STIs is the first step in STI control. Drawing on over a decade of STI research in remote areas suggestions on the way forward will be provided.