A new online resource of sexual health information has been launched to bring much-needed information and education to the New Zealand public, and in particular, at-risk youth.
Designed with young people in mind, the JUST THE FACTS website aims to dispel myths and provide simple, up-to-date information about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and related issues to target those at most risk. Research indicates that Maori and Pasifica aged under 25 years have a disproportionate burden of STIs within the NZ population.
“There’s an undeniably high rate of STIs in young people, and over 60% of cases come from non-European ethnic groups,” Clinical Director of Canterbury District Health Board’s Sexual Health Centre.We know that if we can reach these people and provide the tools to assist them we can start to reduce STI’s and improve sexual health outcomes.”
The Auckland region, for example, currently experiences an overburdening on GPs and primary care nurses to provide sexual health care. As Dr Coughlan points out, “It is well recognised that at-risk groups, especially young people, need multiple doors of entry to facilitate access to sexual health care.”
Online information is one of these entry points but sexual health diagnoses still require in-person assessment and treatment, so a key feature of JUST THE FACTS is up-to-date, localised clinic information. More than 130 clinics nationwide have logged their details so that users can search by location, and check each clinics status on free testing, supply of contraception, counseling services and more.
International comparisons show that New Zealand rates for bacterial STIs are significantly higher than comparable countries. Our chlamydia rate in 2013 was almost double that of both the UK and Australia. Says Dr Coughlan,"At a time when STIs are high in New Zealand, we have to acknowledge that more needs to be done in the adequate provision of sexual health care. Something has to change, and education is a vital part of that.”
JUST THE FACTS is a consumer-focussed online information centre for everything relating to sexual health and developed with involvement of Maori and Pacifica youth to help ensure it resonates with traditionally harder to reach groups.
It’s primary purpose is to provide education and support about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), where to go for help, mythbusting, sexual abuse and more, with the aim of encouraging open conversations about sexual health.
JUST THE FACTS has been developed by the New Zealand Sexually Transmitted Infections Education Foundation (NZSTIEF) in collaboration with the New Zealand Sexual Health Society (NZSHS) funded by the Ministry of Health through NZ District Health Boards to educate New Zealanders about STIs.
Information on the website has been developed in collaboration with the NZSHS, and in consultation with numerous groups including: Te Puawai Tapu, Youth Hub West Auckland, Youth Space Whangarei, Ngati Hine Health Trust and members of the Society of Youth Health Professionals Aotearoa New Zealand (SYHPANZ).