Google Play mobile download button
Apple IOS mobile download button
Google Play mobile download button
Apple IOS mobile download button
HomeAus & NZDoctors frustrated as Kiwis struggle to access STI testing clinics

Doctors frustrated as Kiwis struggle to access STI testing clinics

'Quick read' news summary

Sexual health specialists are calling for a review of the Auckland Sexual Health Service, alongside further investment in public clinics around the country. Dr Massimo Giola has worked as a sexual health specialist for 30 years, first in Italy and now in the Bay of Plenty. A 2014 review of the Auckland Sexual Health Service resulted in the dismissal of two specialist physicians, reducing capacity instead of increasing it.

Sexual health specialists are calling for a review of the Auckland Sexual Health Service, alongside further investment in public clinics around the country.

Patients who cannot afford to see a GP are forced to navigate restrictive walk-in hours for Auckland’s clinics, and those in the South Island may have to travel hundreds of kilometres to see their nearest specialist.

Dr Massimo Giola has worked as a sexual health specialist for 30 years, first in Italy and now in the Bay of Plenty. He is one of just a handful of qualified experts spread throughout the country.

Giola said his work was vital.

“We deal with very intimate questions and problems,” he said.

“Sometimes people trust us with information they wouldn’t tell anyone else. That’s the reason why we need to keep our doors open.”

But keeping those doors open hasn’t been easy. Aotearoa’s sexual health clinics have been operating with the same staff and resources for almost a decade, despite increasing demand.

A study in the current issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal showed referrals to public clinics had almost doubled in the last five years, from 1218 to 2036.

A 2014 review of the Auckland Sexual Health Service resulted in the dismissal of two specialist physicians, reducing capacity instead of increasing it. The rationale behind this decision was to transform clinics into a secondary-level service only accessible by referral, which was expected to reduce demand by 30 percent.

That didn’t happen.

The review, in Giola’s words, was unfortunate.

“I think it could be used in schools as a case-in-point of how you do not manage a health service,” he said.

Since then, Auckland’s sexual health clinics had floundered under the DHB system while infections like gonorrhoea and syphilis continued to

Read different perspectives