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Chlamydia rates remain high, rates of genital warts decline

Chlamydia rates remain high, while rates of genital warts decline

Improved laboratory data collection provides the most accurate picture of sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates in New Zealand to date.

The New Zealand Sexual Health Society welcomes the recently released annual STI surveillance report from Environmental Science and Research (ESR) for 2013.

It is the first time nationwide voluntary laboratory reporting for chlamydia results has provided a national incidence rate that is more accurate than previously estimated figures.

Since 2009, chlamydia rates in New Zealand have gradually fallen, however, the New Zealand chlamydia rate for 2013 (633 per 100,000 of population) is markedly higher than the most recently reported Australian rate (355 per 100,000 in 2012).

The group most likely to test positive for chlamydia in New Zealand is 15 to 19 year old women, with a staggeringly high rate of 5064 per 100,000.

National testing rates by age group were calculated for the first time in 2013. However the ESR report notes that only about 6 per cent of young men, compared with about 35 per cent of young women are tested in this age group.

“Health services, communities and families need to engage young men about their sexual health and encourage them to get tested”, says Dr Edward Coughlan, the president of the New Zealand Sexual Health Society.

“Testing for chlamydia has never been easier, with men able to test on a urine sample and women taking self-collected swabs,” he says.

Although national chlamydia rates have fallen since 2009, sexual health clinics have seen a nearly 10 per cent increase in case numbers over the same time period.

“We know that the burden of chlamydial infections is disproportionately high for young people and in particular young Māori in New Zealand”, said Dr Coughlan. “It is important that young people have lots of options to access health care, particularly services that are free.”

The good news highlighted in the ESR report is a 44 per cent reduction in genital warts cases seen in sexual health clinics.

“The reduction in genital warts cases since 2009, notably in young women between 15 to 19 years, is highly likely to reflect the introduction of the Gardasil vaccine in 2008 in New Zealand”, Dr Coughlan says.

“These results show how vital it is to keep improving Gardasil vaccination rates among young people. In addition to preventing genital warts, the vaccine is also effective against a range of cancers developing later in life.”

You can view the full ESR report on STIs in New Zealand in 2013 here: https://surv.esr.cri.nz/surveillance/annual_sti.php?we_objectID=3969

ENDS

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