Health experts worried as sexually transmitted infections spike

Health experts are worried about a rise in sexually transmitted infections and say not enough is being done to deal with it.

Cases of some infections have doubled in the last decade, numbers that have been linked to a drop in condom use.

It's something few people like to talk about, but for General Practice NZ chair Dr Bryan Betty, sexually transmitted infections are a topic he's increasingly having to discuss with patients.

"We've seen a lot more gonorrhoea in particular in practice and obviously things like chlamydia are still there, but gonorrhoea has become a concern and we know there's been an upswing in syphilis," he told Newshub.

Data from ESR (The Institute of Environmental Science and Research) shows cases of gonorrhoea have more than doubled in the last decade, while syphilis diagnoses are seven times higher.

Sexual health physician Dr Massimo Giola said the upward trend is hugely concerning and can't entirely be blamed on better access to preventative medication for HIV or more contraceptive options.

"There is an issue with promotion and availability of condoms, not because people necessarily don't want to use condoms, but because they should be more available and promoted," he said.

He says the prevalence of pornography could also be a contributing factor for young people.

Sex therapist and porn researcher Jo Roberston agreed that porn without condoms is a real issue.

"We know that condoms are shown in porn between about 3 and 10 percent of the time depending on the genre."

The Ministry of Health acknowledged that rates of sexually transmitted infections are steady or increasing.

It said it's implementing a seven-year strategy to reduce infection rates including investing in prevention, early testing and treatment.

But sexual health experts say the best way to bring the numbers down is more safe sex education, better access to sexual health services and more free condoms.