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International News

New Zealand: Crisis Looms as Disease Risks Fertility

June 17, 2003

New Zealand could face a fertility crisis if the country's soaring rates of chlamydia continue. Christchurch Fertility Center Medical Director Peter Benny predicts a decrease in fertility in seven to 10 years as women who contracted chlamydia when they were younger find they are unable to get pregnant.

As a result, New Zealand's overburdened and underfunded fertility clinics could feel the pressure. "I would think there will be an increase in work [for fertility services] if there is an increase in tubal disease due to an increase in sexually transmitted infections," said Benny. About half of the women with damaged fallopian tubes who need fertility treatment had chlamydia when they were younger, according to Benny. In Christchurch, women with unexplained infertility face a minimum five-year wait, and there are 800 women currently waiting for treatment.

The Sexually Transmitted Infections in New Zealand Surveillance Report 2002, which has yet to be released by the Ministry of Health, shows 10,370 confirmed chlamydia cases, but does not include tests from laboratories in the lower North Island and the South Island. Chlamydia cases at New Zealand's sexual health clinics rose from 3,238 in 2001 to 3,372 last year. Most at risk were people ages 15-24, who accounted for 73 percent of all chlamydia cases in 2002.

National Party spokesperson Lynda Scott said the chlamydia rates have serious implications for women. "The problem with chlamydia is there are often no symptoms until you find your tubes have been affected, and bad luck, you can't have children," said Scott. Scott also stressed the importance of personal responsibility. "If you are sexually active and have different partners you must get yourself screened or use safe sex practices," Scott said. She added that the Ministry of Health must draw up a comprehensive strategy to deal with chlamydia.

Back to other CDC news for June 17, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Christchurch Press (New Zealand)
06.16.03; Michelle Brooker

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More News on HIV/AIDS in New Zealand