New infectious disease legislation comes into force

Sector news
17 January 2017
On 4 January 2017 new infectious disease legislation came into force which has implications for primary health care providers.

Key changes include:

•    Anonymous notification of HIV infection, gonorrhoea and syphilis, in addition to AIDS will be required.
•    Chlamydia will be added to the Schedule as an 'infectious disease' (although it will not be notifiable).
•    There will be minimum information requirements for those making disease notifications which must be made electronically if possible.  A new, secure, web-based information system is being collaboratively developed by ESR. Roll-out will be phased in and medical officers of health (MOH) will inform their local primary health care providers as the new arrangements are progressively introduced.
•    Health practitioners with a relevant scope of practice, rather than only medical practitioners, will have infectious disease notification responsibilities.
•    Public health units may ask notifying practices for further information to help identify sources and risks for the spread of disease.
•    MOH will have a new, incremental suite of powers to effectively manage infectious disease; imposing public health directions, applying to the court for a public health order, imposing an administrative urgent public health order to detain a person for 72 hours, and (as a last resort) prosecution.
•    Tuberculosis notification and management is being mainstreamed.
•    Outdated ‘venereal disease’ terminology is being replaced.
•    Regulations about prescribing for children suspected of having an STI are being replaced.
•    There is a new statutory basis for requiring information about contacts from individuals who have, or are suspected of having, an infectious disease. The legislation prescribes process steps and requirements for formal contact tracing – you may be asked by a MOH to do contact tracing on their behalf.

Read the full notice of changes and view the draft 'generic' STI notification process.