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Youth Encouraged to Use Free Sexual Health Checks

Media Statement

22 September 2006

Young People Encouraged to Use Free GP and Nurse Sexual Health Checks

Just under 6% of young adults aged 13-24 have taken advantage of the free sexual health consultations available at six Gisborne medical centres since March.

Gisborne GP Murray Smith from The Village Clinic said more young adults should take advantage of the opportunity to see a GP or nurse for free.

“Our concern focuses on two key areas, the increasing number of sexually transmitted infections or STIs, particularly chlamydia, and the high level of unintended and unwanted pregnancies.”

Dr Smith said sexual health problems do not go away despite the reluctance of some individuals to acknowledge them.”

"We advise people to visit their doctor or sexual health clinic if they have any concerns about their sexual health, as early treatment for a sexually transmitted infection means you face less risk of complications. Untreated sexually transmitted infections can lead to long term problems, including infertility."

Of the 5723 enrolled patients eligible for the free sexual health service, just 338 people have visited a GP or a nurse – the majority of them female.

“Because pregnancy testing and cervical smears are offered under the free service, it comes as no surprise to us that the majority of users are female. However, we encourage males to use the service as well. Positive sexual health is fundamental to everyone’s sense of self, self esteem and ability to lead a fulfilling life.”

The six medical centres offering the free service: Kaiti Medical Centre, Desmond Road Medical Centre, City Medical Centre, Mangapapa Medical Centre, Serendipity Health Ltd and The Village Clinic, are part of Turanganui Primary Health Organisation, which funds the initiative.

Dr Smith said normally under-25-year-olds would have had to pay to see a doctor about a sexual health issue.

“Our aim with the free service is for a reduction in unwanted pregnancies in the district, and reduction in the chlamydia infection rate.”

As well as the free sexual health service at the six GP Practices, sexual health advice and treatment is also offered through School Based Clinics (delivered by Mangapapa Medical Centre) and the Community Health Clinic on Bright St.

The free sexual health checks for under-25-year-olds will be available until June 2008.

ENDS

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