“An increasing number of young Swedes are aware of the fact that many sexually transmitted diseases don’t have visible symptoms. As a result, they may be more inclined to get tested as a precaution,” Pelle Ullholm, an expert with the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (Riksförbundet för Sexuell Upplysning, RFSU) told The Local.
Figures compiled by online health clinic HealthExpress reveal there has been a significant rise in the number of reported STDs in Europe in recent years, the Daily Mail newspaper reported.
Based on data from more than 3,500 consultations, Swedes sought treatment for STDs most often, followed by Germans and Britons.
Chlamydia was found to be the most common STD across Europe, according to the paper.
Ullholm wasn’t surprised by the findings, citing a number of factors that may have resulted in Swedes’ penchant for getting tested for STDs such as increased awareness about infections and easy access to testing.
“While I can’t speak specifically about other countries, Sweden has a number of youth-friendly clinics where young people feel comfortable seeking advice and treatment,” he said.
He explained that Swedish law requires people found to test positive for certain STDs, including HIV and chlamydia, are required to tell past partners about their infections.
“They are given access to free treatment, but they need to tell all their past sexual partners, to the best of their memory,” said Ullholm.
Dr Hilary Jones, a medical adviser with HealthExpress told the Daily Mail that Sweden’s STD reporting requirement should be seen as a model that could be followed elsewhere in Europe.
“Although some may view the country’s rules as ‘draconian,’ having legislation which protects people from infection could help other countries within the EU dent the rising STD figures,” she told the paper.
Ullholm noted further that Swedes remain single and unattached longer in comparison to other European countries, which can result in more sexual partners.
In addition, a recent survey found half of young Swedes don’t use condoms when having sex with a new partner and that 30 percent of Swedes use no contraceptive measures at all.
“Clearly that figure needs to be improved,” he added.