An Illawarra health expert is urging sexually active young people to "play safe" after a 20 per cent increase in chlamydia notifications in the region in the past four years.
Illawarra Sexual Health Service director Katherine Brown said young people aged 15 to 24 had the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in NSW, with chlamydia the most common.
Clinical Associate Professor Brown encouraged young people to check out the new Play Safe website, launched this week as part of National Youth Week.
"There are a number of health strategies and campaigns in place to educate people about safe sex and STIs," she said.
"This new website is a welcome addition to these campaigns, and is specifically targeted at young people.
"The aim is to get young people talking about STIs, which will not only raise awareness but hopefully, work to reduce the fears, myths and stigmas that surround them."
The Play Safe website, developed by NSW Health in consultation with the NSW Youth Advisory Council, offers a range of information on STIs as well as details on support services.
"The problem with many STIs, including chlamydia, is that they are often asymptomatic so there's no warning signs," Prof Brown said. "That's why regular screening and testing is important if you are sexually active."
Prof Brown said the Illawarra Shoalhaven Health District was running a strong campaign to get people to get tested, and to notify their current and former sexual partners of a positive diagnosis to stop the spread of infection in the community.
"Because there's increasing numbers of people in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven being diagnosed each year, we know there's still a pool of untreated people out there," she said.
"That's why contact tracing is so important, as is continuing to get the message across that sexually active young people should always wear condoms."
Left undiagnosed, and untreated, STIs such as chlamydia could lead to serious health conditions such as infertility.