Young adults see Aids risk as 'remote'

MANY young people will use condoms when they have sex with a new partner but rapidly change to the pill if the relationship progresses, because they are more worried about pregnancy than sexually-transmitted diseases like Aids.

A study of how 166 young people, aged between 16 and 24, viewed a significant sexual relationship highlights their real anxieties about sex and the cultural obstacles to condom use, according to researchers.

Valerie Kent, a lecturer in psychology at Goldsmiths' College, London, and joint director of the study said that for some young people, going on the pill was symbolic of commitment to a 'serious' relationship, while condoms were viewed as suitable for an 'occasional frolic'. Some were reluctant to discuss condoms in case it was seen as 'insulting' to their partner, and implied that he or she was considered promiscuous.

The risk of HIV infection was seen as remote, Ms Kent said, because the young people tended to have relationships with people drawn from their own circle, people they knew something about.

'Heterosexual teenagers do not believe that people they know have HIV,' she told a press conference in London yesterday to launch Promoting Sexual Health, a book produced in conjunction with the British Medical Association and the Health Education Authority.

'In terms of HIV, the drift to the pill is of great concern. A very small proportion use the pill and condoms together, thus addressing both risks,' Ms Kent said. 'It is certainly difficult to fight teenage pregnancy and HIV at the same time unless dual protection is suggested, because all those really concerned about pregnancy will use the pill, which is perceived as safer, more pleasant and symbolic of a long-term relationship.'

The Goldsmiths' study also found that young people are often confused about how a physical relationship progresses, which further complicates the condom issue. 'Very often each partner operates on private assumptions about what is going on and does not particularly wish to make matters more explicit,' she said. They had to be taught to 'negotiate' sex in an environment where condom use was accepted as normal.

Hilary Curtis of the BMA's Foundation for Aids called for 'openness and honesty' in sex education. 'If people are happy talking about sex . . . they will find it much easier to say they want safer sex. The message is carry on, enjoy it - but do it safely.'

Promoting Sexual Health; BMA Foundation for Aids, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9JP; pounds 12.50 plus pounds 1.50 p&p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine