Spike in chlamydia cases is 'significant'

Chlamydia cases in the Manawatu and Whanganui regions have increased, with the highest rate of the sexually transmitted infection in more than two years.

Recorded chlamydia cases increased 58 per cent from the last quarter in the MidCentral District Health Board region and more than doubled in the Whanganui board area, a sexual health clinic report for the first quarter of the year shows. While the report, released by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research, shows MidCentral sitting at the middle of the table for cases per head of population compared with the rest of the country, the increase in chlamydia was the second highest.

Youth One Stop Shop clinical director Dr David Ayling said the increase was significant.

"I have to say the apparent increase is pretty real on the front line. It mirrors what we see here."

While the increase had no simple explanation, young people came with problems such as disrupted families and behaviour determined by alcohol consumption, and difficulty in access to care was a contributing factor, Ayling said.

"Access to sexual health services for young people, in the MidCentral District Health Board, is quite high in our region compared with the rest of the country," he said.

"Young people have several options, so access theoretically shouldn't be a problem."

Tracking of chlamydia through contact tracing of previous sexual partners to prevent further spread needed to be improved, Ayling said.

"Education is also a factor.

"We want to get in well before the transmission of a sexually transmitted infection, and give young people the knowledge and skills to make better decisions and influence their behaviours to reduce [infection] rates."

MidCentral also recorded a significant decrease in genital warts, down 33 per cent from last quarter.

Overall, chlamydia accounted for 53 per cent of recorded STIs in New Zealand, followed by genital warts at 19 per cent, with gonorrhoea, genital herpes and non-specific urethritis all at 9 per cent and infectious syphilis at 1 per cent.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board recorded the most cases per head of population of chlamydia.

Bay of Plenty also had the biggest increase in gonorrhoea cases but Tairawhiti recorded the highest rate per head of population in New Zealand. While Auckland topped the list for the most STI cases overall, and for genital warts and herpes, the numbers of cases were all down on last quarter and the lowest since 2012, except for infectious syphilis and non-specific urethritis.

Syphilis cases in Auckland were up 42 per cent from last quarter with 20 cases reported so far this year.

Manawatu Standard