VENERAL disease is on the rise in Australia, according to latest research conducted at the University of New South Wales' Kirby Institute.
About 75,000 people were diagnosed with chlamydia in 2010, a 17% increase from previous figures, while the number of those diagnosed with gonorrhoea rose 25% to just over 10,000.
In northern NSW, 651 cases of chlamydia have been recorded this year alone, a 40% rise above the NSW average rate of diagnosed cases.
Director of Public Health Paul Corben is concerned.
"They show high levels of transmission in local communities," he said.
"Whether the increase in diagnosed cases of STIs reflect a higher number of people getting themselves tested in response to public awareness campaigns or an increase in the number of people partaking in unsafe sex remains unclear."
An increase of gonorrhea has also been reported in northern NSW with 37 cases.
"These two STIs can be asymptomatic, meaning they often display no symptoms, so the person may not be aware they are infected," Mr Corben said.
Due to the nature of the diseases, people can suffer life-long consequences such as infertility, if left untreated.
Mr Corben said venereal diseases are easily avoided if preventable measures are used.
"It is important that couples practice safe sex by using condoms, which greatly reduces the risk of getting an STI," he said.
"It's also important that parents talk to their children about safe sex practices, especially to young teenagers going through puberty.
"Young people need to be aware of the risks involved with sex - it isn't just something fun."