Sexually Transmitted Infections Rising in NZ

It appears that the incidence of sexually transmitted infections has been rising in New Zealand over the last few years.  These figures may be levelling out, but they are not going down.  Is the overall level out just a coincidence?  According to an article published on Stuff on Christmas Day “In the three months to September, rates of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis all increased on the quarter before.”  Obviously certain types of infections are becoming more prevalent in the non-monogamous sexually active population.

1202 cases of chlamydia were reported over the three months to September 2012 (up 5%).  The incidence of gonorrhea climbed from 16 cases to 27 in that same three month period (up around 68%).

These figures are alarming.  Both chlamydia and gonorrhea have the potential to cause irreparable damage to a woman’s reproductive system, possibly rendering her infertile.  If over 1200 cases of chlamydia were reported in such a short space of time, how many more have it and don’t even know?  It is astounding to think that so many women are walking around not even knowing that when they finally decide it is time for children, those children may never come.

Are these increases in sexually transmitted infections the result of the hard push by the New Zealand Family Planning Association and government agencies for women of all ages to use long-term contraception such as Jadelle, Depo Provera and IUDs?  Does it have anything to do with the easy attitude our society has regarding promiscuious sexual activity, and the practice of “serial monogamy” (where a couple are exclusively sexually active for the term of their relationship – whether that be one month or three years).

Dr Christine Roke, medical advisor to the Family Planning Association says “We are seeing people get checked more regularly and to a certain extent the numbers are reflective of the fact we’re picking up more.”  It might well be that people are getting checked more often, but I do believe that societal attitudes have become extremely permissive, and this permissivemess is being rewarded by free and cheap contraception.

Christine Roke’s answer to the madness of the “silly season” is “What we would recommend to people is to designate a person, in much the same way you would a sober driver, and that person should keep an eye on the group and make sure they don’t get into any trouble.”  Advice that is hardly going to ensure a person doesn’t contract a sexually transmitted infection.

Somehow we need to change society’s attitude towards promiscuous sex.  Young people especially need to learn that it is okay to enjoy the company of the opposite sex without engaging in sexual intercourse.  However we manage to convey this message, handing out free or inexpensive contraception and telling people to designate a person to keep watch is hardly going to work in decreasing the incidence of sexually transmitted infections.

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