16 February 2018

Young people who volunteer a urine sample at the Mountain Sounds Festival will gain access to an exclusive area and pick up some sexual health advice in a unique awareness campaign.

NSW Health is offering access to its VIP area at the Central Coast for anyone who is tested for Chlamydia as part of its Down To Test campaign aimed at improving STI awareness and reducing the spread of infection.

The exclusive access area offers festival-goers a hygienically clean toilet, phone charging station, and a “glitter bar” to freshen up their party look.

Dr Chris Bourne, Head of the NSW STI Program Unit said there were 28,000 chlamydia notifications mostly in young people in NSW last year and it’s hoped this initiative will help reduce the stigma around regular testing.

“Music festivals are a great opportunity to reach people aged between 15 and 29 to help normalise STI testing and remind them that condoms are the best way to stop the spread of HIV and STIs,” Dr Bourne said.

“Young people aged 15-29 have the highest rates of chlamydia and notification numbers continue to increase, so this new approach offers important health advice in a fun way.”

Dr Bourne said the Down to Test program, first trialled last year, is being monitored by The Centre for Social Research in Health (UNSW) which found the campaign to date is working.

“At the Listen Out festival in Sydney we attracted 434 young people and then more than 500 people volunteered to be tested at the Strawberry Fields and Festival of the Sun festivals,” he said.

“If you are going to engage in any sexual activity, it’s important to remember to be safe at all times. We encourage young people to take advantage of the expertise of our team on the ground at this weekend’s event and learn more about how to prevent being infected with STIs.”

Negotiations are now underway for Down to Test to visit other festivals around New South Wales including Byron Bay, Newcastle and the Illawarra.

The Mountain Sounds Festival kicks off at Kariong Parklands, on the Central Coast on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th February.

For more information on Down to Test, please see: https://playsafe.health.nsw.gov.au/down-to-test/​​​