Every fourth man aged 20-24 would rather run the risk of infection than decline sex in the absence of a condom, according to a new Youth Barometer (Ungdomsbarometern) survey conducted by the council together with the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).
40,000 people contracted chlamydia and around 500 HIV, prompting the launch of the new campaign to encourage condom use and increase knowledge.
“Sex is for the most part a pleasurable and positive part of life. But condoms must become a matter of course with new and casual sexual encounters. The alternative is that you risk your health, and that of your partner,” the public health minister, Maria Larsson and Christer G Wennerholm, chairperson of the National Council for Coordination of HIV Prevention, in an opinion article in the Dagens Nyheter daily on Monday.
Young people in Sweden have a generally positive attitude to the use of condoms, the survey shows, but many don’t use them themselves, with a third of 20-24-year-olds never doing so.
The survey, which interviewed 4,714 people within the age group 15-24-years-old, shows that 75 percent of sexual intercourse in Sweden is conducted without a condom. Only 56 percent responded that a condom should be used with a new sexual partner.
Larsson and Wennerholm argued that while it is commonly presumed that young Swedes are well informed about HIV and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, the reality is very different.
“Currently only 60 percent of young people can answer correctly in response to basic questions concerning how HIV is transmitted,” the pair wrote.
The new campaign will focus on behaviour and will feature an interactive site called Knullträdet (literally: the fuck tree) reminding people that when they have sex with a new partner they also have sex with all of their ex-partners.
The site will enable users to chart their sexual history and establish how many people that are actually in their sexual tree.
“One case of HIV is one case too many regardless of who you have sex with. We have the knowledge, we now have to start to work with attitudes,” Christer G Wennerholm said in a statement on Monday.