As a group, Indigenous Australians experience poorer health outcomes than other Australians, including in the area of sexual health. Indigenous Australians have substantially higher rates of STIs, BBVs and teen pregnancy than non-Indigenous Australians, particularly for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, infectious syphilis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Efforts to reduce these high rates are compounded by the historical and social context of Indigenous Australians. Although many Australians may experience elements of shame and embarrassment when they access health services for STIs and BBVs, for many Indigenous Australians there also exists a mistrust of ‘mainstream’ (non-Indigenous specific) health services as a result of past injustices and racially differentiated treatment (Arabena 2006). Historically, Indigenous Australians diagnosed with an STI were segregated and placed into privately run hospitals (‘lock hospitals’) that were in poor condition (Hunter 1998).