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Wednesday 08 April 2009

Aucklanders check themselves out on Mondays

Posted in: Features, Safe Sex
By Matt Akersten - 11th December 2008

What's going on down there? It's better to know...
Auckland's new Monday evening Men's Sexual Health Clinic has been popular since it opened for a trial period – and its manager hopes it will remain busy, to ensure the service remains open.

Wayne Otter, Regional Manager of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation's Burnett Centre says the free and confidential men's sexual health service has been operating for three weeks now, and has seen thirteen attendees over that time – an amount the clinic staff is very pleased with.

"We want the clinic to be used as much as possible because it is currently operating on a trial basis. If there is evidence that the clinics are needed in the communities we serve we hope to be able to continue providing this service. If the clinics are not used we will lose them," he explains.

The clinic is open from 5-8pm every Monday evening and its maximum capacity is three people per hour for each of those three hours.

To mark World AIDS Day 2008,the Burnett Centre was also open on the preceding Saturday, 29 November 2008. Fourteen people used the service on that day - an increase of over 200% on 2007, says Otter.

Sexually-Transmitted Infections: Can be nasty, but may be easy to treat
Men making appointments at the clinic for HIV and syphilis screening are encouraged to have a comprehensive sexual health screening. "These clinics provide the perfect opportunity for a complete sexual health screening at one facility with staff who are qualified, non-judgmental and experienced. The HIV, syphilis and Hepatitis A and B testing services provided at the Burnett Centre form an important part of men's sexual health services."

Practicing 'safe sex' by using condoms for penetrative sex minimises the risk of contracting HIV, however there is still a risk of other sexually transmitted infections (STI's) through oral sex, Otter reminds readers. "Symptoms of STI's may go unnoticed and in some circumstances may increase the risk of HIV infection. For men who already live with HIV, it is particularly important that their immune system is not placed under further stress by fighting additional infections like STI's."

If you have questions about sexual health, if you think you may have an STI, or if you wish to alleviate worries about passing an infection to your partner(s), then book a free Monday evening appointment at the Burnett Centre (Level 2, 37 Hargreaves Street, Ponsonby). To make an appointment please call (09) 309 5560.

Matt Akersten - 11th December 2008