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Sexually Transmitted Diseases - 2002 Report

Sat 21 Sep 2002 In: Safe Sex View at Wayback View at NDHA

More than one third of NZ gay men have experienced Sexually Transmitted Diseases. An NZAF report also highlights increased risk of HIV transmission. Summary of a Male Call report, prepared by NZ AIDS Foundation September 2002 A paper recently published in the New Zealand Medical Journal gives detailed information on the experience of STDs among a large sample of New Zealand men who have sex with men. The findings are from the New Zealand AIDS Foundation's 1996 Project Male Call/Waea Mai, Tane Ma, and for the first time provides detailed behavioural information alongside lifetime reports of sexually transmitted diseases. More than a third (37.1%) of the survey's 1852 respondents said they had been diagnosed with at least one STD during their lifetime, with a quarter having a sexual health check up in the preceding 12 months. Lead author Peter Saxton said "The results showed that, for gay men, STDs were a relatively common experience during their sexually active lifespan. Gay men therefore shouldn't be embarrassed or ashamed about getting regular sexual health check-ups especially since some STDs, like chlamydia or gonorrhoea, can easily be treated by a course of antibiotics. Viral hepatitis A and B can also be prevented by a course of vaccination.' "Furthermore, some STDs such as oral chlamydia - which can be mistaken for a common sore throat - might not be noticed by individuals and then inadvertently passed on to other sexual partners if not quickly diagnosed by a sexual health professional. Other STDs have more serious implications such as anal warts, which appear to be related to the development of anal cancer." Saxton said it was important men understood that some STDs also increased the risk of transmitting HIV. "For example, people who are HIV positive and have herpes lesions are more likely to transmit HIV through these sites. Similarly, HIV negative men with herpes sores are more likely to acquire HIV from a positive partner." Since the 1996 survey, Saxton said that international research amongst msm populations indicated an increase in STD diagnoses. "But because New Zealand's sexual health monitoring system doesn't collect sexual orientation data, it's not possible to be certain whether this is the case here." Although much of the increase in STDs internationally is likely to be related to increases in unprotected anal sex, Saxton said it was important that men understood that not all STDs indicated 'unsafe' sex. "Because many STDs can be transmitted in several ways other than unprotected anal sex - for example through oral sex, fingering, or even mutual masturbation - an STD diagnosis doesn't automatically mean that the person has also been unsafe for HIV." The research found that STDs were more commonly reported by men who had higher numbers of sexual partners and men who went to cruise clubs or cruise areas to look for sexual partners. "Compared to a gay bar, cruise clubs and cruise areas are places where men can meet and have multiple sexual encounters over a short period of time. Where high rates of partner change occur, you're more likely to encounter other men who have recently had multiple sexual partners." In such circumstances, STDs could be easily spread, he said. NZ AIDS Foundation - 21st September 2002    

Credit: NZ AIDS Foundation

First published: Saturday, 21st September 2002 - 7:04pm

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