Surveillance of Sexually Transmitted Infections

Wednesday 24th October 2018

Surveillance of Sexually Transmitted Infections

Most Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are not notifiable in New Zealand, and their surveillance has traditionally been based on data from specialist sexual health clinics, and since mid-1998 data from family planning and student and youth health clinics.  STI cases reported through the clinic-based surveillance system underestimate the true burden of disease because a substantial percentage of STIs are diagnosed by other health providers, particularly general practitioners (GPs).  Laboratories do however provide a useful, complementary source of STI data because they receive specimens from all health providers.  Laboratory-based surveillance of chlamydia and gonorrhoea has been operating since 1998 in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions. In Auckland gonorrhoea surveillance began in 1998 and chlamydia surveillance in 2001. Since June 2004, efforts have been made to extend STI surveillance to additional laboratories across New Zealand.

The Institute of Environmental Science & Research Limited (ESR), as the national coordinating centre for STI's surveillance on behalf of the Ministry of Health, has the role of collating, checking, analysing and reporting data from participating clinics and laboratories on the occurrence of the following STI's:

  • Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Genital Warts, Genital Herpes, Non-specific Urethritis (NSU), Chancroid, Granuloma Inguinale, and Lymphogranuloma Venereum.
STI case definitions (PDF, 87KB)

Each month participating clinics send anonymised data on the age, sex and ethnicity of all cases meeting one or more of the STI surveillance case definitions to ESR. Clinics also provide the total number of clinic attendances.

Likewise, each month participating laboratories across New Zealand send anonymised data on confirmed cases of chlamydia and gonorrhoea by age and sex, to ESR. Laboratories also provide the total number of specimens and/or patients tested.

After checking and cleaning the data, ESR produces clinic and laboratory quarterly reports and an annual report with all data reported during the previous year.

Clinic surveillance forms used in data collection can be downloaded here:



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