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STI/HIV health alert issued in Auckland

Thu 25 Jun 2015 In: New Zealand Daily News

Syphilis and gonorrhoea cases are on the rise in Auckland, where gay and bisexual men are being urged to get a sexual health check-up. Average monthly syphilis cases have increased 120 per cent over the last 18 months, and average monthly gonorrhoea cases by 170 per cent in the last six months. Recent data from University of Otago shows an increase in HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men across New Zealand. “The STI epidemic is very worrying” says Executive Director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation Shaun Robinson. “There have been several significant breakouts of STIs amongst men who have sex with men over the last two years and the situation appears to be getting worse. We know that over 85 per cent of syphilis cases in New Zealand affect gay and bisexual men and we are also seeing major outbreaks of gonorrhoea. “These can do serious health damage if untreated and spread very rapidly in the community. It is very important that men who have had anal sex without condoms get an STI and HIV test.” The NZAF says if a person has syphilis or gonorrhoea, they are also more likely to get HIV and pass it on. It says it’s vital to continue to use condoms and lube for anal sex because unprotected anal sex makes it easy for STIs and HIV to be passed on. The NZAF says evidence shows that eight in ten gay and bisexual New Zealanders use condoms most of the time for anal sex with casual partners and they are encouraged to continue doing so. It says the increase of rectal gonorrhoea infections indicates that the rising infections are most likely a result of anal sex without condoms which carries the highest risk of HIV and STI transmission. “It is possible to have syphilis, gonorrhoea or HIV with no symptoms and it is also possible to pass these infections onto others when you don't have symptoms. Syphilis and gonorrhoea are treatable and HIV can be managed with medication so getting tested is very important for your own health and the health of your sexual partner/s.” The NZAF is encouraging gay and bisexual men to get a sexual health check-up at their GP, or book a free check-up at Auckland Sexual Health Service, NZAF Burnett Centre or Body Positive.     

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 25th June 2015 - 3:59pm

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