Queensland has recently experienced an increase in infectious syphilis cases in addition to all Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs). Over the past 5 year period, Queensland had a 46% rise in all syphilis notifications and an 84% increase in notifications concerning women of reproductive age. Seven percent of these women were pregnant, risking an increase in congenital syphilis and other pregnancy complications.

True Relationships & Reproductive, together with Health Queensland Health, have developed a training program to ensure sexual health clinicians are aware of the rise in syphilis and the critical need for sexual health assessments during pregnancy.

The positive news is that syphilis is easily treated and cured, further reducing potentially fatal complications to unborn babies. For this reason, sexual health assessments in pregnancy are essential to early detection of STIs and enable early treatment and appropriate specialised management where required — which further aims to keep both mother and baby safe and healthy.

The new ‘ASK’ (Antenatal Sexual health Kit) training program launched recently by True and endorsed by Queensland Health, offers training in sexual health assessments during pregnancy. The skills required to discuss, offer and conduct a sexual health assessment with a pregnant patient could be daunting to undertake, which is why ASK will provide and equip healthcare providers with tools and information to help them.

The course begins with a webinar presented via Zoom for each Queensland region, presented by True’s Lead Nurse Educator and Nurse Practitioner, Monica Vitale. 

“The ASK course aims to increase the knowledge of antenatal clinicians in the areas of sexual health history assessments and contact tracing specific to pregnancy,” Monica explained. “Partner notification is an essential tool to prevent an infection or reinfection during pregnancy.”

“ASK will explore how to approach the discussion to start contact tracing to ensure patients maintain optimal health during pregnancy.”

ASK aims to provide resources and tools to support midwives, nurses, nurse practitioners, and other antenatal supports in providing appropriate care aimed at reducing the incidence of syphilis in pregnancy aligned with the Queensland Health Syphilis in Pregnancy (SiP) Guidelines. This course and resources within the Kit are free to all antenatal service providers and is endorsed by Queensland Health.

The course package consists of a 45-minute webinar in each region; a series of short online learning modules; a podcast series and an online resource hub and interactive forum.

The ASK course is available free to healthcare providers including midwives, practice nurses, GPs, PHU staff and ACCHSs. The webinars are recorded and can be accessed at a later date.

Registration for the ASK course is essential to unlock the webinars and training, online resource hub and anonymous forum. Register online now or contact True’s Clinical Education Unit for details - [email protected]