US silence on sex increases Aids risk

COMPARED to their British cousins, people in the United States don't like to talk in public about what they do in the bedroom and US efforts to promote safe sex lag as a result, a report said yesterday.

"There is great public resistance in the United States to addressing forthrightly the risks of having many sexual partners and of engaging in risky sexual practices," said Robert Michael, principal author of the report. He added that the resistance results from the opinion that the behaviour is unacceptable, not that it is risky.

One result is that by 1996 the rate of Aids infection in the US was 256 per million compared to 24 per million in Britain, said Mr Michael, a dean at the University of Chicago.

The study found that nearly 9 per cent of US men between the ages of 18 and 24 reported having five or more sexual partners during the previous year, compared to 4 per cent in Britain.

US women also were more likely to have multiple partners than women in Britain.

The study said British officials have been better at talking frankly about sexually transmitted diseases, and as result 23 per cent of British men use a condom, compared to 18 per cent in the US.

- Reuters, Chicago

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