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International travel is considered a risk factor for acquiring ; however, there are little empirical data to support this.


To examine the prevalence and risk factors for infections among heterosexual international travellers (n = 28,786) attending the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (MSHC), Australia, compared to Australian residents (n = 20,614).


We conducted a repeated cross-sectional study and analysed sexual behaviours and chlamydia positivity among heterosexual males and females aged ≤ 30 attending MSHC for the first time between January 2007 and February 2017. ‘Travellers’ were defined as individuals born outside of Australia who had resided in the country < 2 years. Associations between patient characteristics and chlamydia positivity were examined.


Chlamydia positivity was higher among travellers (11.2%) compared with Australian residents (8.5%; p < 0.001). Male travellers had higher chlamydia positivity (12.1%) than Australian males (9.3%; p < 0.001), as did female travellers (10.4%) compared with Australian females (7.7%; p < 0.001). Travellers had a higher mean number of sexual partners than Australian residents among males (5.7 vs 4.7; p < 0.001) and females (3.6 vs 3.2; p < 0.001). Travellers from the United Kingdom, Europe, Ireland and New Zealand accounted for 29.6%, 21%, 8.5% and 5.8% of infections, respectively. Chlamydia in males and females was associated with younger age (≤ 25), inconsistent condom use, a higher number of sexual partners (≥ 4 partners) and being a traveller (p < 0.001).


We found that international travel is an independent risk factor for chlamydia among young heterosexual travellers in Australia, who should therefore be a target group for chlamydia prevention.


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