Turning up the volume on sexual health

3 October 2019
A member of the audience at a festival with hands up in love heart and text that reads: Down To Test, get the VIP treatment at Yours and Owls festival

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) is encouraging young people to get tested for chlamydia at the Yours & Owls Festival this October long weekend. 

NSW Health’s “Down to Test” initiative capitalises on a common festival-goers experience – the need to find a clean toilet, charge their phone and freshen up at the Glitter bar. At Yours & Owls, all of those needs can be met in a fun VIP space – all you have to do is get tested for chlamydia.  

Associate Professor Katherine Brown from ISLHD’s Sexual Health Service said the NSW Health initiative was helping raise awareness around the importance of STI testing with young people. 

“Many people with chlamydia do not have symptoms but can still spread the infection. If not treated, chlamydia can lead to infertility and other complications.” Professor Brown said.

“The festivals are a great opportunity to reach people aged between 16 and 29 to improve awareness of safe sex behaviours and help normalise STI testing.”

Festival-goers can rock up to the VIP area in front of the main stage and register for the program. Patrons will be asked to provide a sample for testing using the VIP toilets. Participants can enjoy the perks of the VIP area for the remainder of the festival, with test results provided the following week.

Rates of chlamydia and notification numbers in 16-29 year olds are some of the highest in NSW and they continue to increase. 

Professor Brown said the success of the project at festivals across the state was sending more and more people to the Down To Test tent each year. At Yours and Owls in 2018, more than 1000 people provided samples for testing.

“Following on from larger festivals like Splendour in the Grass earlier this year, we are thrilled to have the project return once again to the Illawarra, and we look forward to welcoming as many people as possible to our VIP tent” Dr Brown said.

The program has been run at 11 festivals across NSW to date, and has found it is helping to take away the stigma of STI testing, as well as offering important sexual health advice in a fun and engaging environment.

Yours & Owls Festival will be held at Stuart Park, Wollongong on 5 and 6 October 2019. For more information on Down to Test, see: https://playsafe.health.nsw.gov.au/down-to-test/