Survey reveals attitudes to STIs among young people in Ireland

Almost seven out of 10 respondents to a survey of young adults in Ireland said that they have never had an STI check.

More than half (54%) of those questioned in the Durex survey, conducted among 500 Irish men and women aged 18-24 in November 2017, have never asked a new sexual partner if they had recently been checked for STIs.

Of the 68% who have never had an STI check, men are even less likely to get checked compared to their female counterparts - Durex revealed that 77% of males have never had an STI check, compared to 59% of females.

In fact, the majority of youths surveyed admit that contracting an STI isn’t their biggest worry when having unprotected sex.

Around 53% admit they are more worried about getting pregnant than catching an STI (33%), with 14% claiming they have no worries at all when having unprotected sex.

More than 1 in 10 (12%) have had an STI scare, 74% of which stated that they have become more inclined to start using condoms as a result.

Of those who admit to having had an STI scare, 10% say they were initially more inclined to use a condom when having sex, but ultimately fell back into their old ways.

Hust under a quarter (24%) of those surveyed say they openly discuss having an STI check with their current sexual partner, with over a third (34%) saying they would be open to discussing it only if it was brought up.

Another 22% admitted that they would be too embarrassed to talk about the subject at all.

Despite over half (54%) never having asked a new sexual partner if they have recently been checked for STIs, the majority of respondents (38%) said they would inform all recent sexual ex-partners of an STI risk.

Meanwhile, 37% think it necessary to tell their current partner only.

When asked which STIs they think can be cured by prescribed medication, the four that came out on top were chlamydia (60%), genital warts (53%), genital herpes and syphilis (both 43%).

However, while chlamydia and genital warts can be cured, genital herpes stays in the body forever.

According to Dr. Jack Lambert, consultant in infectious disease and genitourinary medicine at The Mater Hospital, bacterial STIs can be cured with antibiotics e.g. chlamydia and gonorrhoea, whereas viral STIs are for life.

Following on from this, 21% believe that no STIs can be cured by prescribed medication.

Speaking about the recent findings, Maria Mealiffe, senior brand activation manager at Reckitt Benckiser, commented: “It’s clear from the survey results that there is still a huge gap in sexual education left to fill, especially when it comes to STI knowledge and the importance of getting regular check-ups.

"There remains a casual attitude towards the use of condoms, and it is worrying to learn that 68% have never had an STI check.

“As a society, we need to start discussing the issue of STIs and safe sex more openly with our sexual partners, friends and healthcare professionals.

"It is everyone’s responsibility to get checked. Levels of certain STIs are very much on the rise and we need to take it upon ourselves to push for better sexual education and create a climate where regular STI checks are a routine part of life.”

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