Sexually active British teenagers have an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs/STIs) because of their "inconsistent and incorrect" use of condoms, according to a study published on Thursday and commissioned by Brook, a British sexual health organization for young people, BBC News reports (BBC News, 5/18).
The study — which was funded by the Big Lottery Fund and conducted by the Centre for Sexual Health Research at the University of Southampton — surveyed more than 1,300 people ages 16 to 18.
According to the survey, 37% of sexually active males and 30% of sexually active females reported using condoms every time they had sexual intercourse (Andalo, Guardian, 5/19). However, many students reported using condoms incorrectly.
In addition, most survey participants reported using condoms primarily for pregnancy prevention, not for STD prevention. Many students also had misconceptions about STDs.
Approximately 31% of respondents said they thought STDs could be transmitted by touching a toilet seat, and 52% thought the STD chlamydia only affects women.
In addition, 54% of respondents said they did not know emergency contraception may possibly prevent or terminate pregnancy if used within 72 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse (Evening Standard, 5/19).
Teens' concern about STDs and their perceived risk of contracting an STD varied, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. About 89% of male and 82% of female respondents said they were generally worried about STDs, while
61% of male and 50% of female participants thought they could be
at risk of contracting an STD. Most respondents cited school as
their main source of information about STDs (AFP/Yahoo! News,5/19).
No mention was even made in passing that the risk of STDs and out-of-wedlock pregnancy could be entirely eliminated by a change in behavior – abstaining from sexual activity until marriage, marrying another who has abstained, and remaining faithful to each other will virtually provide young people with a lifetime of physical and emotional health.
(BBC News, 5/18); Kaiser Daily Reproductive Report, 21May05