37th Annual New Zealand Sexual Health Society Conference

12 October 2015
Posted in General

37th Annual New Zealand Sexual Health Society Conference

The 37th Annual New Zealand Sexual Health Society conference is being held in Taupo from Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th October 2015. The conference is structured around the themes of equality, quality of care and accountability, reflecting the World Health Organisation’s 2014 position paper on sexual and reproductive health.

There have been significant gains globally in reducing HIV infection rates, reducing maternal mortality and increasing the use of modern contraception. However, ongoing issues internationally and in New Zealand include significant gaps in ensuring universal access to quality sexual and reproductive health care, with persisting inequalities between men and women and between social and ethnic groups.

The 37th Annual New Zealand Sexual Health Society conference provides an opportunity for a wide range of New Zealand speakers to share their successes in addressing these issues and to showcase research in the sexual health field.

A plenary talk from Mauriora Associates will provide insights into the role that cultural competency can provide for sexual health workers to address health care equity for Māori and other ethnic minorities.

A highly successful antenatal programme run in Turangi under the management of Tuwharetoa Health will be showcased demonstrating that a holistic approach to wellness can result in increased antenatal engagement and vaccination rates for mothers and babies.

The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) will present new data highlighting alarming inequities in the burden of sexually transmitted infections across different ethnic groups in New Zealand. Further information on the state of the nation’s sexual health is expected with the impending release of the 2014 annual STI surveillance report from Environmental Science and Research (ESR).

New research will be presented highlighting:

  • Use of geo-targeted health alerts in response to an increase in syphilis cases in New Zealand – spike in syphilis testing for male patients during the campaign
  • Predictors of HIV testing among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBM) – sexual health clinics are now the most common sites for HIV testing
  • Barriers to contraception use among Tongan women – cultural and religious beliefs are important barriers
  • Understanding of human papilloma virus disease and vaccination among GBM – high acceptability for vaccination by GBM if funded
  • Measurement of sexuality using non-binary measures
  • Perception of sexual health among young Niuean women

A first for the annual conference is a book launch with the introduction of Jane Tolerton’s book, Ettie Rout: New Zealand’s safer sex pioneer.

“A woman way ahead of her time”, is how Dr Edward Coughlin, president of the New Zealand Sexual Health Society, describes Ettie Rout, the World War One heroine who waged a successful crusade for safer sex providing all the New Zealand soldiers on leave with a prophylactic kit. Ettie Rout proved the case for safer sex decades before the coin was termed and the soldiers adored her for it.

An introduction to the book will be provided by Dame Margaret Sparrow, DNZM, MBE another of New Zealand’s pioneers. Dame Margaret was closely involved in the writing of the book and is already well known for her work campaigning fearlessly for safe, legal access to abortion for New Zealand women throughout her career.