Swedes get more liberal about sex

Swedes might have long rejected foreigners' assumptions that they have a free-and-easy attitude to sex, but a new survey shows that the country has loosened up considerably in matters of the flesh.

The report, from the National Board of Health and Welfare, shows that people have more sexual partners than they did twenty years ago and that twice as many people sleep together on a first date. Despite the fact that people know about the risks, they do not appear to be taking greater care to protect themselves.

“People see condoms as giving good protection, but despite this condom use has not increased,” said Viveca Urwitz, head of the board’s unit for HIV prevention.

Young women in particular were more likely than 20 years ago to have multiple sexual partners. In 1989 the 13 percent of women aged 18-19 had had three or more sexual partners in the past year. In 2007 this figure was 26 percent, although the reports authors stressed that the number of people who responded to the survey was lower in 2007, making the figures less certain.

The report also found that people who had spent at least a year abroad had had a larger number of sexual partners than the average Sweden and were more likely to have had one-night stands or other fleeting sexual encounters.

The findings could help to explain a sharp rise in cases of chlamydia, particularly among young people, the report said.

When it comes to HIV and AIDS, the report showed that people are more knowledgeable about how HIV is transmitted, but that their general awareness of the issue is low.

On the plus side, people were more tolerant of gay people and people who are HIV positive. HIV testing has not increased since 1987, with most tests taking place in maternity units and during blood donations.

Urwitz said that more efforts were needed to increase people’s awareness of the risks and how they can protect themselves.

The report is based on seven polls taken between 1987 and 2007, each of which was based on interviews with 4,000-6,000 randomly selected people aged 16-44.