Bay News Editor and reporter for NZME.

Slight rise in visits for sexual diseases in Bay

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More than 8000 people went to sexual health clinics in Tauranga and Te Puke last year, new figures show.

We see the full spectrum from the well informed and forthright right through to those who feel an enormous sense of shame and stigma.
Dr Lorna Clayton

Data from the Bay of Plenty District Health Board shows 8131 patients were seen in 2015 compared to 8116 in 2014 for free, confidential, sexual health advice, screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pregnancy testing and contraception.

Clinic 2 Sexual Health Services Dr Lorna Clayton said she did not think there "has been a shift in attitude particularly," towards STIs.

"We see the full spectrum from the well informed and forthright right through to those who feel an enormous sense of shame and stigma."

But it prided itself on "making allcomers feel comfortable and safe in the clinic," she said.

Meanwhile, mainstream television shows were also helping to spread the message.

"Shows such as Embarrassing Bodies have been helpful in encouraging people to attend and get checks and in giving them some of the language around anatomy and health literacy generally."

But online pornography had caused a negative effect.

"The rise in viewing of online pornography has had an effect, which is largely negative, with high levels of body dissatisfaction reported by young people."

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According to its statistics, the top three STIs it had treated were chlamydia, which was usually treated with an antibiotic tablet (single dose), genital warts that were treated by freezing or a cream, and genital herpes that were treated by acyclovir tablets.

There had also been a slight trend towards more infections caused by men who have sex with men and a rise in syphilis rates - with both experiencing the largest increase in the 40-plus age group, she said.

The latest report from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research revealed the Bay of Plenty District Health Board had the sixth highest rate of chlamydia in 2014 with 1497 laboratory confirmed cases of chlamydia, which is the same as 689 cases per 100,000 people. The rate was unchanged from 2013.

However, the Lakes District, which encompasses Rotorua, Taupo and surrounding areas, recorded the highest rate in New Zealand with 1182 laboratory confirmed cases of chlamydia, which was the same as 1144 cases per 100,000 people.

But Rotorua doctor Tania Pinfold told the Rotorua Daily Post she would be surprised if the Lakes was really worse than other areas, pointing to more testing of the region's youth as a possible explanation.

Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond said everyone working in sexual health knows that "we have much more work to do in both testing and treatment".

It also had a sexual health clinic in Tauranga that was funded by the Ministry of Health but it did not release individual data.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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