The Great British STI Taboo
The Great British STI Taboo
This content has been reviewed and approved for quality and accuracy by James O'Loan (GPhC: 2084549)
HAVE YOU BEEN TESTED?
We asked survey respondents, aged between 18 and 55+, if they'd even been tested for a sexually transmitted infection, and if so, when that test ahd taken place.
The vast majority of respondents - 69% - admitted they’d never been tested for an STI. A further 16% said they'd been tested ‘more than two years ago’.
That's despite the fact that - according to Public Health England - there were approximately 420,000 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections made in England in 2017, with Chlamydia being the most common (48%).
In our survey, the most likely to have been tested within the last three months were those aged between 18 and 24 years old.
Meanwhile men were more likely to have shunned testing when compared to women (72% of males compared with 66% of females overall).
The results of the survey not only highlighted a potential need for better STI testing but also of a lack of education about infections in the first instance.
Many respondents believed they could become infected with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, genital warts, herpes or syphilis through kissing, toilet seats, swimming or even sharing a drink.
Of course, they’re mistaken in their beliefs - as it's medically impossible to catch those STIs in such a manner.
Thankfully the majority of respondents - 56% - replied ‘none of the above’ when quizzed on the commonly-held myths when it comes to catching certain STIs, but for many the 'false news' persists.
STIs AND HONESTY
The participants in the Chemist-4-U.com survey also gave a unique insight into the taboo nature of STIs - and why, despite a newfound openness and transparency within society in general, we're still not entirely honest about them.
Of the respondents who had tested positive for an STI, a whopping 72% had not told their recent sexual partners, while just 28% had.
Reasons given for not spilling the beans included being ‘too embarrassed’ (11%), ‘couldn’t get in touch with them’ (8%) or ‘they haven’t told me about having their own symptoms’ (5%).
Meanwhile other respondents showed a rather relaxed attitude towards STIs.
Some 36% of respondents admitted they’d still have protected sex with a partner if they knew this partner had an infection like chlamydia, herpes or crabs, with males more likely to do so (24% of men compared with 12% of women).
NUMBER OF SEXUAL PARTNERS
If you’ve never asked your partner about their sexual history - or if you've lied about your own - you're not alone.
Our survey revealed how 34% of the Great British public had not quizzed their current parter about the number of previous sexual relationships.
Females appeared to be the most inquisitive about sexual history, with 13% of women asking their partner within the first 12 months of knowing them, compared with just 7% of men.
And ignorance appears to be bliss for many. Of those who said they’d never enquired about their partner's sexual history, 30% of women and 33% of men said they simply ‘did not want to know the answer’.
Others were either 'too embarrassed’ to discuss it (8% of women and 5% of men) or they were ‘worried my number was bigger than theirs’ (6% of women and 2% of men.
Not everyone, however, was entirely comfortable in being oblivious to the full picture when it comes to previous sexual dalliances.
Rather shockingly, 23% of Brits said they either ‘definitely’ would, or they’d ‘seriously consider’, breaking up with a partner if they weren’t happy with the number of sexual partners their boyfriend or girlfriend had revealed.
Female respondents were more likely to end the relationship for such reasons, with 26% of women potentially calling time on proceedings, compared with just 18% of men.
It’s not surprising, then to learn that respondents admitted to telling little white lies about their sexual history in order to keep the peace.
While 53%, overall, said they’d been open and honest about their sexual past with their partner, 9% of women and 8% of men revealed they’d ‘decreased’ the number of notches on the bedpost when in conversation with the object of their affections.
And 4% of men (compared with just 2% of men) said they'd inflated the number to impress or appease a partner.