Sexually transmitted infections on the rise

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 05:00 25/12/2012

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With an ever-increasing rate of Chlamydia, medical professionals in New Zealand are calling for caution this New Year, as there are inevitably a few who "let things get a bit out of hand" on New Year's Eve.

The rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in New Zealand has been steadily rising for a number of years. Although the latest figures show this year they have evened out, Family Planning national medical advisor Dr Christine Roke said it was disappointing they hadn't gone down.

In the three months to September, rates of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis all increased on the quarter before.

According to clinical surveillance figures, 1202 cases of chlamydia were recorded over the last quarter - nearly a five per cent increase on the three months prior.

A similar rise was seen with gonorrhoea and the incident rate of syphilis jumped from 16 cases to 27 within three months - an increase of about 68 per cent.

"We are seeing people get checked more regularly and to a certain extent the numbers are reflective of the fact we're picking up more.

"But it's the same message, if people are not in a long term relationship with one person and they are sexually active, they need to be safe and use condoms."

Roke said antibiotic resistance had meant higher doses were needed in treating some infections, but the main problem was the rate of undiagnosed infections out there at any one time.

One in three people will get chlamydia at some point in their lives, and Roke said many would not know they even had it.

Coming up to New Year, Roke said they didn't necessarily see a higher incident rate of STIs in the days afterward, but anecdotally there were always more than a few who "did things they normally wouldn't have done" if they were sober.

"We do always have people afterwards who need to get checked out and say 'well I did get a bit drunk, and things did get a bit out of hand'.

"What we would recommend to people is to designate a person, in much the same way you would a sober driver, and that person should keep an eye on the group and make sure they don't get into any trouble."

Roke said it was important to remember: It is not who you are, but what you do that puts you at risk of getting an STI.

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