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Britain and Condoms: The On-Off Relationship

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nearly half (49 percent) of the British public don't always use a condom when with a new sexual partner, according to the Ipsos MORI survey conducted for the National AIDS Trust. In National Condom Week the National AIDS Trust is calling for new culture of condom use in the UK.

Where condoms are used by people who have had a new sexual partner within the last two years, the survey asked ‘When with a new sexual partner, at what point, if at all, would you stop using condoms?’

The good news is that

  • a quarter (24 per cent) of people who have had a new sexual partner within the last two years say they would only stop using a condom once they and their partner have both been tested for HIV and other STIs, the one guaranteed way of knowing the state of your and your partner’s sexual health
  • and a further 17 per cent say they would always use a condom. 

The bad news is that

  • this leaves over half (53 percent) of people who have had a new sexual partner within the last two years who put themselves at risk of sexually transmitted infection when they stop using condoms in a relationship1.

The survey also reveals disturbing gaps in knowledge of the importance of condoms in preventing HIV transmission during sex.  One in five (21 per cent) failed to identify that HIV can be transmitted between a man and a woman who don’t use a condom and over a quarter (26 per cent) failed to identify that HIV can be transmitted between two men who don’t use a condom2.

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust, said:

“In National Condom Week the British public need a wake-up call on condom use.  Too many people don’t know the basic facts on how condoms prevent a sexually transmitted infection such as HIV. 

Too many people are inconsistent in how they use condoms and too many people give up on condoms in a relationship without a health check-up, thus possibly harming their health or that of their sexual partner.  We need to educate the whole population in the importance of condoms."

The National AIDS Trust is calling on the Government to introduce;

  • condom use as an essential part of comprehensive, compulsory sex and relationships education in all schools
  • condom advertising on TV and radio before the 9 o’clock watershed

Deborah Jack continues:

“The message is simple.  ‘Use condoms. And enjoy your safer sex life.’"

Notes to the Editor:

 1 - The remaining six percent stated that they would not have another new sexual partner or refused the question
 2 -The ‘correct’ transmission routes shown to respondents in the 2007 survey were: ‘Sex without a condom between a man and a woman; ‘Sex without a condom between two men’; ‘Blood transfusion’; Sharing a syringe when injecting drugs’; and ‘From a breastfeeding mother to her child’.

National AIDS Trust

The National AIDS Trust (NAT) is the UK's leading independent policy and campaigning voice on HIV and AIDS. It aims to prevent the spread of HIV, encourage early diagnosis, ensure people living with HIV have access to treatment and care, and eradicate HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

Public Attitudes to HIV 2007

The survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI between 15th and 22nd November, 2007.  A nationally representative quota sample of 1,981 adults aged 16 and over was interviewed throughout Great Britain. All interviews were conducted face-to-face in home and all data have been weighted to the known population profile of Great Britain. 
Full results of the survey are available for download from [Editor: link no longer available]

This important research was made possible because of funds raised from the Concert for Diana, organised by Prince William and Prince Harry to mark the tenth anniversary of their mother's death and to celebrate her life and many achievements.

National Condom Week

For NCW this year Durex are launching a range of posters and other promotional material designed to make young people think about the importance of safer sex. From October last year through to February Durex ran a competition called Durexhibit. They challenged 16-24 year olds to design a poster that would make their peers think twice before having unprotected sex. The posters were voted on by people online and the winning poster has been used for the safer sex pack. There are a range of activities taking place across the country at sexual health centres, GUM  and family planning centres and entertainment venues. To order packs visit