Sexual health and viral hepatitis policies and legislation focus on the transmission, prevention and management of blood-borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections.
Victorian sexual and reproductive health and viral hepatitis strategy 2022–30
The Victorian sexual and reproductive health and viral hepatitis strategy 2022–30 sets the overarching direction for sexual and reproductive health and viral hepatitis prevention, testing, treatment and care in Victoria.
The strategy is made up of 7 individual plans:
- Strategy overview and system enabler plan 2022–30
- Victorian Aboriginal sexual and reproductive health plan 2022–30
- Victorian hepatitis B plan 2022–30
- Victorian hepatitis C plan 2022–30
- Victorian HIV plan 2022–30
- Victorian sexually transmissible infections plan 2022–30
- Victorian women’s sexual and reproductive health plan 2022–30
National strategies 2018-2022
Victoria is a signatory to five national strategies for blood-borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections:
- Third National Hepatitis B
- Fourth National Sexually Transmissible Infections
- Fifth National Hepatitis C
- Fifth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood-Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections
- Eighth National HIV
Legislation and regulations
Legislation and regulations relevant to blood-borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections in Victoria include the following.
Public Health and Wellbeing Act
The Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008is a key piece of legislation designed to protect the health of the population.
The Act includes regulations covering the following areas:
- pre and post test counselling
- contact tracing
- putting others at risk of infection
The Act requires that a four year state public health and wellbeing plan be prepared every four years. The Victorian public health and wellbeing plan 2019-2023 sets out a long term agenda for improving health and wellbeing outcomes in Victoria.
Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022
The Victorian government is decriminalising sex work in two stages.
- Stage 1 began on 10 May 2022.
- Stage 2 is expected to commence in late 2023 and will fully repeal the Sex Work Act 1994 and sex industry specific provisions in the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
For more information, see Decriminalisation of sex work
Sex on Premises Venues exemption process
Licensing requirements for escort agencies and brothels in the Sex Work Act 1994, including exemptions, will remain until 1 December 2023.
Sex on premises venues can apply for exemptions to the Sex Work Act 1994 by submitting a signed Application for Exemption Form declaring their site a sex on premises venue and that they would operate in accordance with the Statement of Principles and Procedures for the Promotion of Sexual Health at Sex on Premises Venues in Victoria.
Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, Authorised Officers can enter and inspect any public place, including a sex on premises venue, to investigate whether there is a risk to public health or to manage or control a risk to public health. Hence, if required the department has can inspect any sex on premises venue to investigate public health concerns or issues that have been raised.
Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations
The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations cover the prescription and supply of drugs and medicines by a practitioner for the treatment of sexually transmissible infections and blood-borne viruses.
Patient delivered partner therapy
A key initiative for sexual health relating to these regulations is patient delivered partner therapy. This is an additional public health strategy for managing rising rates of chlamydia in Victoria.
Patient delivered partner therapy describes the practice of prescribing treatment (a single dose of azithromycin) for the person diagnosed with chlamydia - as well as providing treatment, either medication or a prescription, for delivery to their sexual partner.
The Department of Health provides the Victorian Patient Delivered Partner Therapy Clinical Guidelines to assist practitioners in complying with the regulations when prescribing or supplying azithromycin, in restricted situations, for treatment of sexual partners of individuals diagnosed with chlamydia.
Health Records Act
The Health Records Act regulates the collection, handling and privacy of individuals’ health information.
For further information on the above or related legislation and regulations refer to the Chief Health Officer.
Reviewed 24 October 2022