Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Discourage Sex Among Those Under 16: Britons

Public wants 'sex disease' action

Most people would like measures to change people's behaviour to cut rates of
sexually transmitted infections, a BBC poll suggests.
ICM conducted the nationwide phone poll of 1,010 adults in England, Wales
and Scotland between 20 and 22 August.
Most thought the government should intervene to discourage sex among
under-16s.
But more than a third thought their sex lives were their own business and
would only want information on STIs.
'Target under-aged sex'
The number of people being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection
is at record levels, official figures show.
The BBC's Healthy Britain poll shows people want action to tackle the
problem.
Some 86% agreed the government should impose tougher restrictions on sexual
images on children's TV and in magazines aimed at children in order to
discourage under-aged sex.
Nine out of 10 people aged 18-24 thought it was right that the government
tries to make people change their behaviour on STIs.
But, overall, a third of the adults questioned said they would not want the
government to interfere in their own sex lives, apart from to provide
information about the risks of casual sex and infections.
Nine out of 10 supported TV campaigns and publicity to promote safer sex and
highlight the risks of unprotected sex.
The same proportion supported more information about sex and relationships
in school to discourage under-aged sex.
But three out of 10 thought less of this type of information was key to
discouraging sex among under-16s.
Eight out of 10 said the government should spend funds on providing free
condoms.
But half did not believe these should be provided to people under the age of
16.
Most supported government making it easier for people to get screening and
treatment for STIs by providing more money for sexual health screening
services.
Just over 70% supported government spending funds on campaigns to discourage
people from having casual sex, versus 26% against.
Women are more supportive of campaigns against casual sex ¿ 81% versus 62%
of men.
About 64% of 18-24 year olds support campaigns against casual sex, while 79%
of 55-64 year olds support campaigns against casual sex.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said the government was
committed to improving the country's sexual health and tackling the rise of
sexually transmitted infections and had already taken great steps to this
end.
"Sexual health services suffered from under-investment over many decades.
We've already ploughed in millions of pounds to support the sexual health
strategy - the first ever such action plan in this country.
"The Government has committed £35m investment since 2002 to help fund
modernisation of GUM clinics and reduce waiting times."
More money
But Dr Vivienne Nathanson from the British Medical Association said: "It is
clear from the BBC poll that the public wants more government action to
promote sexual health and reduce the soaring rates of sexually transmitted
infections.
"More resources are needed to ensure that sexual health clinics can meet
government targets and see patients within 48 hours.
"It's pathetic that some people are acting responsibly by trying to find out
if they have contracted a sexually transmitted infection only to be told
that have to wait six weeks for an appointment."
She said national awareness campaigns promoting safer sex were also needed.
"And not only campaigns that last a couple of months but long-term campaigns
that will help alter people's behaviour and which understand that it is not
only teenagers who are at risk," she said.
Anne Weyman, chief executive of the Family Planning Association, said:
"There is enormous support from the public for an effective school-based
education programme to prepare young people for their adult lives.
"The government really needs to address the serious issue of access to
quality services and importantly, equipping people with the information they
need to make responsible choices to protect their sexual health."
ICM conducted a nationwide phone poll of 1,010 adults between 20 and 22
August.

Story from BBC NEWS
Published: 2004/09/07 21:23:01 GMT
© BBC MMIV