Cuts to sexual health treatment as syphilis spreads

A sexual health specialist says the long-term health of Aucklanders is at risk because of a decision by the District Health Board to cut the number of doctors working at free clinics.

That's despite record high rates of HIV and a current outbreak of syphilis across the city.

Dr Rick Franklin has worked as a sexual health specialist for almost 30 years.

He says the cuts are a real risk to the long-term health of Aucklanders, as syphilis has increased by 47 percent between 2014 and 2015.

"The people who are most affected are young, the vulnerable, the poor, those who don't have a voice - they are the first affected," he told Newshub. 

"Then that may lead to increased rates of infection and problems which the whole population will deal with eventually."

With New Zealand rates of HIV at their highest in 30 years, the AIDs Foundation says the cuts couldn't have come at a worse time.

"Our message to the ADHB is to please re-consider and prioritise the needs of sexual health and HIV and help us get this epidemic down," said an AIDs Foundation spokesperson.