Where Have the Safe Sex Campaigns Gone?00:40 - Saturday 22 February 2014 - In Categories
A groundbreaking poll has recently shown that over one quarter of young Brits, aged 15-25, have admitted they would have sex with someone who they knew had an active STI, writes Nadine White
The participants justified this by saying that if a condom was used it would not be possible to contract the infection.
Statistics released by the Health Protection Agency adds perspective to the findings of this poll, showing that young people within the mentioned age group have been found to have the highest STI rates in the UK. These were chiefly recorded in the more urban areas of the country, such as London.
Naturally, the most alarming thing about this trend is the health implications. The findings suggest a lack of regard amongst young people for their sexual wellbeing but, moreover, it could also mean their continued ignorance towards safe sex.
Despite the fact that information is readily available in doctor’s surgeries and clinics, another contributing factor is the absence of public campaigns about sexual health. The last effective campaign I remember is Want Respect? Use A Condom, which was launched in November 2006. Although, granted, the implementation of this campaign was the result of an overlap into the 1999 Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, as this was the Government’s main priority.
There have been recent efforts such as the We Can’t Go Backwards campaign, which took place last September during Sexual Health Week (as if information about this should just be assigned to one week) but this was the work of Brook Clinic and the Family Planning Association (FPA), which are both charities.
Fair enough, we’ve all got to prioritise stuff. But now that teen pregnancies have fallen by a whopping 34 per cent since 1999, isn’t it time to focus on the obvious sexual health crisis at hand?
The introduction of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme in 2003 was a good start as this is the most common STI in young people, followed by genital warts. Pressingly, chlamydia is more prevalent in females; often shows no symptoms and can affect fertility. Something ought to be done before we have a decline in birthrates altogether! This will have a knock-on effect on the country’s population and if this isn’t enough of an incentive for more government campaigns, then I don’t know what is.
On another note, I find it almost ironic that although the mass media exposes young people to explicitness on a daily basis, sexual health awareness is still a bit of a taboo. There’s too much of an emphasis of glitz, glamour and unattainable perfection.
We can simultaneously drool over the likes of Trey Songz whilst discussing and learning from his admission of unwittingly catching crabs from a random girl who he slept with. We can scoff at the fact that she denied ever giving it to him and know that the struggle doesn’t recognize money or celebrity and is oh-so-real.
And speaking of third party influences, research has shown that young people first come to learn about sex through friends/peers, the internet and, most precariously, trial and error. Therefore, it’s easy to see how these lax attitudes can become perpetuated, particularly when there is little or no learned, adult influence.
As it stands, 52 per cent of parents in the UK have had ‘little or no’ conversation with their children about the birds and the bees. The home is where we first become socialized and, fundamentally, it is a huge responsibility of parents/family to ensure their child’s learning.
For one reason or another, these responsibilities aren’t being fulfilled and often there are cultural/behavioural complexities behind why parents and children don’t usually have ‘the talk’ that’s so desperately needed.