Waikato's sexual health clinic (SHC) statistics appear to be bucking a trend highlighted by a University of Otago survey published in the New Zealand Medical Journal.
The survey shows that only about half (54 per cent) of respondents used a condom last time they had sex and five per cent had experienced an unintended pregnancy. Some Waikato sexual health experts say this behaviour is leading to a rise in previously rare infections. However, ESR's SHC surveillance statistics for April-June this year show a decrease in the most common sexually transmitted infections.
Comparing against the same quarter for 2011, chlamydia was down 26 per cent, gonorrhea was down 17 per cent, genital herpes was down 46 per cent and genital warts down 13 per cent.
Family Planning chief executive Jackie Edmond said STIs were still "a major issue" in New Zealand, which she attributes to "a combination of not having god sexuality education, a good programme for parents and kids needing good contraception and STI coverage".
Ms Edmond said Family Planning was encouraging the Ministry of Health to develop a sexual health and reproductive education strategy as there wasn't one in place. "An ERO report a few years ago showed the sexuality education was very much hit and miss and inconsistent across the country in terms of content and messages. You can't rely on quality sexuality education in schools."
She said parents struggled to access appropriate and relevant resources around sexual health to pass on to their children. "It is challenging to think through what is the right amount of information, when to give it and to give it. It's hard to get through that quagmire of what is age appropriate."
Ms Edmond said parents sometimes felt 10-12 was too young to broach the topic of sexual health, but infact it wasn't too soon.
Parentline CEO Cathy Holland agreed that parents found it difficult to obtain accurate information to begin with and when it came time to broach the subject, there was still "a lot of awkwardness around how to pass this sort of information on". "In my experience the issue isn't that parents don't want to raise the issue, it's more about them not knowing where to start."
Parenting Worx director Lisa McKimm said parents "might have a stab on Google" to find relevant information but that mostly parents lacked support in educating their children about the dangers of unprotected sex.
Mrs McKimm said she would like to see educational resources introduced for parents of 12-year-olds so they could be proactive about the information they provide ahead of when their children become sexually active. "This is something that should be part of a normal, healthy and proactive approach to sex education. It's about parents passing on information early on, in a calm, positive atmosphere."
Mrs McKimm said sex education was something that should be discussed at home and followed up in schools.
The survey questioned nearly 3000 New Zealand students aged 17-26.