Forget Carrie or even Samantha. Meet Suzi, a real life thirtysomething who puts the Sex and the City girls in the shade.

Suzi (not her real name) typifies the modern career woman: bright, successful, well paid, well dressed and sufficiently feisty to get on. At 32, she knows she has to look after herself: days begin in the gym; food is checked for fat content; she tries to drink two litres of water a day.

She enjoys a healthy social life too, shedding the stress of the working day (in her sought-after media job, naturally) with the help of a packet of Marlboro Lights, buckets of Pinot Grigio and (after a real tough one) as much gin as she can drink.

And she has a healthy sexual appetite too. She always uses a condom when she sleeps with her husband of three years. It's only when she meets her lover, Andrew (his real name), that she has unprotected sex.

It's simple. By secretly taking the contraceptive pill, she can be spontaneous in her largely unplanned, stolen encounters with Andrew (inevitably, the bloke from work). And by carrying on using condoms, she's not putting her husband at risk of catching anything or herself at risk of getting caught. "It's not something I particularly planned to do," she says. "But, strangely, it does make sense. To turn up to see Andrew with a load of condoms would be almost cynical. And it'd feel a lot less exciting. And there are times when you really want to give someone a particular sort of pleasure without anything getting in the way."

A lot of Suzi's friends, mostly single, admit to at least one experience of unprotected sex. Suzi says: "It just doesn't always come up, if you'll excuse the expression. Some women don't feel comfortable about discussing whether to use a condom. But mostly it's just not that appropriate. It sort of spoils the moment. A real passion killer."

But these are not young women who don't know the dangers. They know they should use a condom. They know what they're risking if they don't.

"Awareness of sexually transmitted diseases is something we were brought up with," says Suzi. "But I suppose it doesn't frighten us. If you think about it at all you think of it as something that happens to someone else."

OK, so Suzi might not exactly "typify" the modern career woman. But she's by no means alone.

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