June 15, 2007
A report by the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV, released today, said alcohol, drugs, and risky sexual behavior are provoking a "sexual health crisis" among British youth. The report said sexual health among the young has seriously deteriorated in the last 12 years, and media coverage of celebrities' excessive lifestyles may exacerbate the problem.
"Young people, from their early teens, are defining a lifestyle that involves alcohol, drugs, and sex," said the group's chairperson, Baroness Joyce Gould. "We need to address why our young people have turned to these behaviors -- behaviors which put them at risk."
The report found that Britain has the highest rate of STD infection and teenage pregnancy in Europe. Over the last 12 years, chlamydia and HIV have increased 300 percent, while syphilis has increased 2,000 percent. The study found a "strong correlation" between STDs, sex, and drug use, adding that alcohol "can increase the risk of having unprotected sex."
The report's authors recommended a more collaborative, less "puritanical" official approach to the issues, making condoms more accessible to youth, and making sex education in schools mandatory.
Factors discouraging risky sexual behavior, according to the report, include young people having parents who are ambitious for them, a confidant, and achievement at school. "Ambition in young people is a very, very good contraceptive," said Professor Mark Bellis in the report.
Health Minister Caroline Flint said the government would study the report.
Agence France Presse