Chlamydia rate highest in NZ

By Kyra Dawson

6 comments
Dr Tania Pinfold urges Rotorua residents to practice safe sex. Photo / Ben Fraser
Dr Tania Pinfold urges Rotorua residents to practice safe sex. Photo / Ben Fraser

It's a title no region wants to claim, but unfortunately one has to and that region is ours.

The Lakes District Health Board, which includes Rotorua, Taupo and surrounding areas, has the highest recorded chlamydia rate in New Zealand, according to the latest figures from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research.

However, a Rotorua doctor says she would be surprised if Lakes really was worse than other areas, pointing to more testing of the region's youth as a possible explanation for the results.

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria.

The figures show that at the end of 2014, Lakes had 1182 laboratory confirmed cases of chlamydia, which is the same as 1144 cases per 100,000 people.

Tairawhiti followed closely with 1143 cases per 100,000 and Hawke's Bay had the third highest rate with 889 per 100,000.

Eighty-three children under the age of 1 were also reported to have contracted the disease throughout New Zealand.

The research revealed infants born to infected mothers could contract the disease during delivery.

The report also revealed 83 per cent of chlamydia cases were most commonly diagnosed in females between the ages of 15 to 24 nationwide. Rotovegas Youth Health clinical leader Dr Tania Pinfold said the results came from positive tests seen at laboratories in each area.

"I would be surprised if the true rates in our community are higher then elsewhere. The local statistics probably reflect the fact that we have youth health screens for STIs at every opportunity.

"Other areas do not have such extensive youth health services."

She said the community needed to challenge social norms about casual and unprotected sex and that people in committed relationships were much less likely to be at risk.

"The problem with most STIs is that people don't know that they have them. This means they should be tested if there is any chance they may have contracted one."

Dr Pinfold said safer partying and staying in control was a good way to prevent getting an STI because that was when young people made better choices.

"Using condoms is very important. STIs are easy to get, easy to test and, most, are easy to treat."

Where to get tested:

* Sexual Health Services call (07) 349 7918 or text (027) 455 2227

* Rotovegas Youth Health Centre call (07) 343 1012

* See your GP

- Rotorua Daily Post

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