Unsafe: A Third of United Kingdom's Youngsters Don't Know HIV Can Be Passed Through Unprotected Sex
May 18, 2004
An increasing number of students in the United Kingdom are unaware that HIV can be transmitted through unprotected sex and by sharing drug needles, according to recent figures from a survey of 140,000 students conducted in 2001. The Schools Health Education Unit (SHEU)-sponsored study found that 36 percent of kids ages 12-13 did not know that sex without a condom could lead to HIV, compared with 21 percent in 1995. Among 14- and 15-year-olds, awareness of the risk fell from 91 percent to 82 percent.
In 1995, 78 percent of children ages 12-13 knew that HIV could be transmitted by sharing drug needles. By 2001, that figure had plummeted to 58 percent. The study showed that between 1995 and 2001, the number of kids ages 14-15 aware that HIV could be transmitted by blood contact during first aid dropped by 11 percent. And more children thought HIV could be acquired from kissing and toilet seats.
The Health Protection Agency recently reported that new HIV cases in 2003 increased by 20 percent to more than 5,000 from 4,204 in 2002, and the driving force behind the rise was unsafe sex.
Paul Ward, deputy chief executive of the HIV/AIDS charity Terrence Higgins Trust, was alarmed by the SHEU study. "With rates of sexually transmitted infections at an all-time high, it's appalling that young people are becoming less aware of the risks of unprotected sex, or how HIV is passed on. Good sex education works. ... Teachers must be given the support they need to tackle this dreadful information gap, and to deliver coordinated and appropriate sex education in schools," said Ward.
05.17.04; Nick Henegan
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.