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Copeland: Health Minister slack on STDs

Media statement
For immediate release
Friday, 8 September 2006

Copeland: Health Minister slack on STDs

United Future MP Gordon Copeland, a member of the group which is reviewing the Prostitution Reform Act pursuant to his party’s confidence and supply agreement with Labour, today questioned whether Health Minister Pete Hodgson was even concerned about the explosion of sexually transmitted diseases in New Zealand.

“It has been international practice for about 170 years to monitor the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases relative to the level of prostitution in society,” said Mr Copeland.

“Knowing that background, I asked the Minister in the House yesterday whether he intends to put in place statistical capture to establish whether there is a link between the chlamydia epidemic (which the Minister admits to); the re-emergence of syphilis and explosion in other STDs; and the legalisation of prostitution

“His short answer was “No.”

“This makes me wonder what kind of Minister of Health he is? This is a very important health issue and we need to understand what is driving the explosion in STDs so that a policy response can be developed.

“It seems clear enough that the level of prostitution in New Zealand has increased since the legalisation of street soliciting and decriminalisation of brothel keeping on 1 July 2003. During the last three years STDs have also exploded, so surely any link between these two realities should be explored.

“The medical profession, unlike the Minister, is deeply concerned. I know that doctors are extremely disappointed to see a disease like syphilis re-emerging in New Zealand society and a “head in the sand” attitude from the Minister is, frankly, unhelpful.”

ENDS

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