Article Title

Establishment of a sentinel surveillance network for sexually transmissible infections and blood borne viruses in Aboriginal primary care services across Australia: The ATLAS project


Background: Sexually transmissible infection (STI) and blood-borne virus (BBV) diagnoses data are a core component of the Australian National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). However, the NNDSS data alone is not enough to understand STI and BBV burden among priority population groups, like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, because it lacks testing, treatment and management data. Here, we describe the processes involved in establishing a STI and BBV sentinel surveillance network representative of Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Services (ACCHS)—known as the ATLAS network—to augment the NNDSS and to help us understand the burden of disease due to STI and BBV among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Methods: Researchers invited participation from ACCHS in urban, regional and remote areas clustered in five clinical hubs across four Australian jurisdictions. Participation agreements were developed for each clinical hub and individual ACCHS. Deidentified electronic medical record (EMR) data relating to STI and BBV testing, treatment and management are collected passively from each ACCHS via the GRHANITEtm data extraction tool. These data are analysed centrally to inform 12 performance measures which are included in regular surveillance reports generated for each ACCHS and clinical hub.

Results: The ATLAS network currently includes 29 ACCHS. Regular reports are provided to ACCHS to assess clinical practice and drive continuous quality improvement initiatives internally. Data is also aggregated at the hub, jurisdictional and national level and will be used to inform clinical guidelines and to guide future research questions. The ATLAS infrastructure can be expanded to include other health services and potentially linked to other data sources using GRHANITE.

Conclusions: The ATLAS network is an established national surveillance network specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The data collected through the ATLAS network augments the NNDSS and will contribute to improved STI and BBV clinical care, guidelines and policy program-planning.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, first peoples, primary care, sexually transmissible infection, blood-borne virus, surveillance, reporting

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