University students clueless about condoms, THT & NUS survey shows


Many students are heading off to university completely clueless about condoms. Survey results published by Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and the National Union of Students (NUS) today show over a third of students thought latex condoms had holes in them large enough to allow HIV to pass through. More than one in ten didn’t know how to put a condom on properly and 16% thought that using two condoms at once was safer than using just one – it’s not.

The online survey, launched last autumn, asked over 2,200 university students twenty questions about condoms, from how to store them to how to put them on. Other worrying results include:
• almost a quarter of students believe that other forms of contraception (other than condoms) protect from STIs (they don’t)
• one in ten believed condoms should be stored in a warm place (they may perish if you do this)
• and seven respondents claimed they thought condoms could be washed and re-used!

Lisa Power, Head of Policy at Terrence Higgins Trust said “University students are no smarter than many other young people when it comes to sexual health. They are just as likely to believe myths about condoms and to have got more of their sex education in the playground than the classroom. We spend a fortune educating students, but leave them ignorant about key issues in their adult lives. It’s hardly surprising that rates of sexually transmitted infections are soaring.”

Veronica King, NUS Vice President of Welfare said: “These results are a timely reminder of the value of good sex education- and clearly many more resources are needed to improve awareness. To ensure that the whole student population is healthy and behaving responsibly there is more to be done in encouraging discussion and continuing education on the sometimes taboo subject of sex and sexual health. There are many students who do understand and practice safe sex. Some of the answers may seem comic, but failing to practice safe sex is no joke which is why NUS is pleased to be working with THT and to play our role in raising awareness of this vital issue.”

Terrence Higgins Trust is campaigning for the Government to make sex and relationships education compulsory in schools. Currently many young people are only taught the biology of conception and miss out on information around negotiating safer sex, how to use condoms and how to deal with relationships. A petition set up by THT urging the Government to take action on this issue has had over 3000 signatures.


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