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Publicity failing to improve sexual health behaviour

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Publicity about sexual health and sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) has failed to affect the behaviour of more than half of sexually active single people, research has found.

The survey by the Office for National Statistics found that 59% of single men and 52% of women had not reduced their number of one-night stands or increased their use of condoms despite fears about STIs.

Only 6% of men and 7% of women said they had been affected enough by publicity to have fewer one-night stands.

Nearly a third of women aged 16 to 49 have been tested for chlamydia, with 38% of those being tested in the past year.

In the past twelve months, 12% of men under 70 had more than one sexual partner compared with 10% of women under 50. 14% of men and 10% of women had no sexual partners in this period.

The sexual health survey found that 7% of women had used the morning-after pill at least once in the year before being interviewed, a similar figure to that recorded in previous years.

Ideas about the uses of emergency contraception were generally clear, with only 4% of women wrongly believing that the morning-after pill was effective until the next period and less than 1% incorrectly thinking it protected against STIs.

Women aged 16 to 19 were the least likely to be using contraception (57%), followed by those aged 45 to 49 (72%), although the report’s authors cautioned that the figures for teenagers were based on only 60 respondents.

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