Young adults see Aids risk as 'remote'
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.
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...
£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...
£60000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Corporate Marketing Communications M...