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New free-phone number for sexual health services

New free-phone number for sexual health services 0800 303 099

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board has set up an 0800 number to make it easier for people to access sexual health services provided by GPs (general practitioners) throughout Hawke’s Bay.

The number is 0800 303 099 and will have a 24 hour answer phone message. This phone service will provide information on where doctors are located, and any costs involved. People under 18 years, or with a community services card, or in a situation where financial constraints are a barrier to treatment, will receive care free of charge.

Sexual health coordinator, Kerri Nuku, said that in the past two years the number of people accessing sexual health services had more than doubled. “While it is pleasing to see people seeking medical attention, it does indicate growth in the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STI) in Hawke’s Bay,” Kerri said. “If people seek treatment early on, the spread of infection can be stopped.”

In the Ministry of Health’s April-June 2003 quarterly report, the number of people visiting a GP (contracted by HBDHB to provide sexual health checks) with a confirmed case of Chlamydia more than doubled from 2002 to 2003. In the 2001/2002 year, 4.5% of those tested had positive results, and in the 2002/2003 year and 10.8% tested positive. The national average for 2002/2003 was 5.9%. Herpes, Genital Warts, and Gonorrhoea have also shown increases.

Specialist services are still provided at Napier Health Centre and Hawke’s Bay Hospital for people referred on from GPs.

“When people find they have an STI it is important they tell their sexual partner/s to ensure they receive treatment as well. This will stop re-infection and further spread of infections.

“If people have had unprotected sex (not using a condom), are unsure of their partner’s sexual history or have symptoms such as pelvic pain, unusual discharge, pain while urinating, itchiness, or sores around the genitals, they should have a sexual health check,” says Shari Tidswell, health promoter.

“Not all STIs have symptoms, which is why having a check up is so important. Repeat infections can cause infertility or other permanent damage to your reproductive system,” Shari said.

Information on STIs is available free of charge from the health promotion resource room on the ground floor of the Napier Health Centre. As well as brochures and posters, the centre has free condoms – it’s open 9-4pm weekdays.

“The Low Down Web site www.thelowdown.co.nz is also a useful place to visit for info on STIs you can ask questions anonymously, and they will be answered by a health professional,” Shari Tidswell said.

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